Life and work
Holmgren initially concentrated his efforts on testing and refining his theories, first on his mother's property in southern New South Wales (Permaculture in the Bush, 1985; 1993), then at his own property, Melliodora, Hepburn Permaculture Gardens, at Hepburn Springs, Victoria, which he developed with his partner, Su Dennett.
The publication in December 2002 of a new major work on permaculture, saw a deeper and more accessible systematisation of the principles of permaculture refined by Holmgren over more than 25 years of practice. The book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability (2002a), is dedicated to Howard T. Odum, who died two months before its publication, and it owes much to Odum's vision of a world in energy transition.
Principles and Pathways offers twelve key permaculture design principles, each explained in separate chapters. It is regarded as a major landmark in permaculture literature, especially as the seminal work, Bill Mollison's Permaculture: A Designer's Manual (1988) was published fifteen years previously and has never been revised.
Holmgren's interest in recombinant ecosystems or 'weedscapes' is partly inspired by a 1979 visit to New Zealand and interactions with New Zealand ecologist Haikai Tane (1995).
In 1997 the article "Weeds or Wild Nature?" was published in the Permaculture International Journal.
In 2007 Adam Grubb, founding editor of Energy Bulletin.net (now Resilience.org) published Holmgren's extended essay Future Scenarios; mapping the cultural implications of Peak Oil and Climate Change that established Holmgren as a significant futurist articulating and clarifying the Energy Descent concept.
Although Permaculture One was published by a mainstream publisher (Corgi) most of Holmgren's work has been self-published allowing experimentation with subject material such as case studies (Permaculture in bush, Trees on the treeless planes and Melliodora) book formats (Melliodora A3 landscape) and eBook formats (Melliodora, Collected Writings) before their more widespread uptake and Web publishing (Future Scenarios). This DIY approach reflects permaculture principles that encourage experimentation and self-reliance.
The Essence of Permaculture, a summary of PP&PBS is the most translated work by Holmgren (available in 9 languages 2014) while PP&PBS is available in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Japanese and French. Future Scenarios is available in Japanese.
Recognition for Holmgren's contribution as an environmental designer, educator and activist has been slow to develop after the initial enthusiasm generated by the publication of Permaculture One when he was 23. The inclusion in Ecological Pioneers (of Australia) was the first substantial recognition by academic authors. The inclusion of a three part series on Melliodora in a best of ten years of Gardening Australia, the most popular Australian TV gardening program and a person profile on the Australian broadcast network program Landline (ABC TV rural program) has been the most significant recognition by mainstream media. In 2012, following the publication of PP&PBS in Italian, the environmental organisation Fondazione Parchi Monumentali Bardini e Peyron recognised Holmgren's contribution with award Il Monito del Giardin. In 2014, Holmgren was inducted into the Green Lifestyle Awards Hall of Fame for his pioneering and ongoing work with Permaculture since he co-founded the concept more than three decades ago. He is in the good company of Bob Brown, the inaugural inductee in 2012 and Olivia Newton-John in 2013.
- 1978 Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. Melbourne: Transworld.
- 1985 Permaculture in the Bush. Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design.
- 1994 Trees on the Treeless Plains: Revegetation Manual for Volcanic Landscapes of Central Victoria. Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design.
- 1995 "The Permaculture Movement and Education", in Goldfields Permaculture and Landcarers, 3, 14–16.
- 1996 a Melliodora (Hepburn Permaculture Gardens): Ten Years of Sustainable Living. Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design.
- 1996 b "Fryers Forest Village", in Green Connections, 2.2, 20–21.
- 1997 "Getting Started", in Green Connections, 10, 28–31.
- 2002 a Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design Services.
- 2002 b David Holmgren: Collected Writings 1978–2000. [eBook on CD] Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design.
- 2005 Mellidora (Hepburn Permaculture Gardens): A Case Study in Cool Climate Permaculture 1985 – 2005 [eBook] Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design Services.
- 2006 a Trees on the Treeless Plains: Revegetation Manual for Volcanic Landscapes of Central Victoria. [eBook] Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design.
- 2006 b David Holmgren: Collected Writings & Presentations 1978 – 2006 [eBook] Hepburn, Victoria: Holmgren Design Services.
- 2009 Future Scenarios. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
- 2011 2011 Permaculture Diary, Marrickville NSW: PcDC Michele Margolis.
- 2012 Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier, edited by Kerry Dawborn & Caroline Smith, Holmgren Design Services, ISBN 0975078623
- http://holmgren.com.au/melliodora/ Melliodora, Hepburn Permaculture Gardens, at Hepburn Springs, (http://www.holmgren.com.au)
- Melliodora, Hepburn Permaculture Gardens – Ten Years of Sustainable Living, 1996a; Payne, 2003
- A prosperous way down, Odum and Odum, 2001
- Mulligan, Dr. Martin, RMIT University (2001). "Thinking like an Ecosystem: Australian Innovations in Land and Resource Management". In Professor Stuart Hill. Ecological Pioneers: A Social History of Australian Ecological Thought and Action. Cambridge University Press. p. 205. ISBN 0521009561. Retrieved October 2013.
- Holmgren, David (2011). "Weeds or Wild Nature: A Permaculture Perspective". Plant Protection Quarterly 26 (3): 92–97. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Mulligan & Hill 2001
- Grayson, Russ (2003) "Permaculture an agent of bio-invasion?". The Planet. The journal of Permaculture International Limited, 6 (Autumn), 10–11
- Low, Tim (1998) Feral Future. Melbourne: Viking Australia
- Mollison, Bill (1988) Permaculture: A Designer's Manual. Tyalgum, NSW: Tagari Publishing, ISBN 0908228015
- Mulligan, Martin and Stuart Hill (2001) Ecological Pioneers. A Social History of Australian Thought and Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 202–207, ISBN 0521009561
- Odum, H.T. (1971) Environment, Power and Society. New York: John Wiley & Sons
- Odum, H.T. and E.C. Odum (2001) A Prosperous Way Down: Principles and Policies. New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0870816101. New 2008 edition: University Press of Colorado ISBN 0870819089
- Payne, Steve (2003) "The Good House Effect". The Organic Gardener. Autumn. Ultimo, NSW: ABC Enterprises, 30–34
- Smith, J Russell (1929, 1953, 1977) Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. Old Greenwich, MA: Devlin-Adair. 1987: Island Press, ISBN 0933280440
- Tane, Haikai (1995) Ecography. Mapping and Modelling Landscape Ecosystems. Canberra: Murray-Darling Basin Commission
- Essence of Permaculture (free download)
- Holmgren Design
- Future Scenarios: Mapping the Cultural Implications of Peak Oil and Climate Change
- Peak Oil and Permaculture: David Holmgren on Energy Descent, Adam Fenderson, originally published by Global Public Media, 6 June 2004, hosted at Resilience.org/Post Carbon Institute
- Peak Oil and Permaculture: David Holmgren Video, Permaculture Cairns
- David Holmgren speaks with GPM's Julian Darley
- Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability
- Permaculture principles
- ‘Retrofitting the suburbs’ for food production, Fran Molloy on David Holmgren & his ideas, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 March 2008, retrieved 25 June 2013