Melliodora Publishing

Melliodora is a small specialist publisher dedicated to producing a limited range of books and other media by David Holmgren, co-originator of permaculture, and other authors. Our titles aim to support individuals in their personal permaculture journeys.

We are guided by the permaculture ethics in each step of the book creation and distribution process, through practices such as:

  • preferencing printing with owner-operated businesses in Australia rather than globalised corporations
  • providing a fair share return to authors, illustrators, editors and other creative contributors
  • minimising adverse environmental impacts of the whole book creation, including printing, logistics and marketing chain
  • bypassing the traditional gatekeepers of the publishing industry, and working outside the monopolistic distribution and marketing systems of the online conglomerates
  • using profits from financially successful projects to subsidise projects that reflect permaculture ethics and design principles.

Our Story

Early Days of Permaculture

Permaculture is a design system for sustainable living and landuse and a global movement of positive environmentalism, which could be regarded as Australia’s greatest intellectual export. It emerged following the 1978 publication of Permaculture One by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.

Despite its success, that early experience with the publishing industry led both co-authors to separately pursue more DIY approaches to publishing. Bill Mollison took back the rights to Permaculture One from Corgi for later print runs under his Tagari Publishing imprint, and published his later works through Tagari directly.

David Holmgren’s Writings

David Holmgren’s response to the success of permaculture (at age 23) was to focus on practical demonstration and documentation of the concepts. The self-published case study Permaculture in the Bush (1985) was a detailed record of the development of his mother’s property on the south coast of New South Wales. Another three case studies followed: The Flywire House (1992), Trees On the Treeless Plains (1993) and in 1995 Melliodora: 10 Years of Sustainable Living, an A3 format case study of David Holmgren and Su Dennett’s home and permaculture demonstration site in Hepburn, Central Victoria (now available as an ebook).

David Holmgren’s prolific writings were first collated in Collected Writings (2000/2006) and are extensively referred to in his major work Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002), also self-published.

Principles and Pathways is available in 9 languages, with 40,000 English copies sold before the revised edition was produced in September 2017. The principles outlined in the book have been widely adopted by the international permaculture community. Essence of Permaculture provides a summary of the book, and it is supported by a number of teaching aids the Permaculture Calendar (first published in 2008) and the Permaculture Principles website.

Melliodora Publishing

The decision to publish Permaculture Pioneers in 2011 was a move by David and Su to support other permaculture authors to publication. Melliodora Publishing was born.

“Melliodora” comes from the Latin name for the large Yellow Box trees that fringe the home property where the business began. It means “smells of honey”: appropriate for Australia’s most important honey tree, a place of permaculture abundance, and publications that aim to sweeten the future!

Re-printing Rosemary Morrow’s Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture and Earth User’s Guide to Teaching Permaculture, collaborating with a number of permaculture creators, and the success of the bestseller The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb in 2016 set Melliodora Publishing on a path to being Australia’s most active permaculture publisher.


David Holmgren’s RetroSuburbia: The downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, first published in February 2018, is Melliodora’s most ambitious publishing project. It has triggered a growth in permaculture across the residential heartlands of capital cities and regional towns in Australia, and overseas, and launched Brenna Quinlan’s career as a permaculture illustrator.

The creation of RetroSuburbia demonstrates the advantages of working outside the mainstream publishing industry. It would have been considered too big and too localised for mainstream publication, but it is now into its third print run, despite its unavailability through standard distribution channels and lack of mainstream media reviews.

Distribution Partnership

Meanwhile, Oliver Holmgren and Richard Telford of Permaculture Principles, have been developing a business model that provides an outlet for independent permaculture authors to retail and wholesale their titles – while providing a fair return.

Retail outlets include the Australian and US online stores along with the Holmgren Design store. Their Melliodora Wholesale service is offered from the wholesale section  of this website, with the warehouse and fulfilment centre in Seymour, central Victoria.

Our People

Meet the team

The early years of Melliodora Publishing was a natural extension of David Holmgren and Su Dennett’s multitasking partnership in life and livelihood. David is still the primary author and articulator of the Melliodora Publishing vision, while Su is still engaged in the critical partnerships, such as with our printers.

These days, Beck Lowe is the manager and principle editor, Richard Telford continues his long-standing role in graphic design, layout and book production while Meg Ulman handles publicity and promotion. Fernando Moreno manages inventory and finance, Kat Dretzke is publishing assistant, marketing and admin, and Ostii Ananda manages our web and tech systems, amongst other roles.

Recent Releases


Climate scientists tell us that some level of climate change is now baked in. So what will life be like in this climate-changed world?

In 2031, Zanna is housesitting a beachside house in Byron Bay, living the kind of life that inspires gloating selfies. She isn’t thinking about climate change – it’s just something in the background squeezing her life choices. Her sister Kat has worries much closer to home too, like dealing with difficult personalities in her eco-village in the hills. Their parents in Melbourne are nervously watching the stock market and debating whether it’s time to do a sea change. For all of them though, the good life is uneasy, fragile, and about to come undone.

Linda Woodrow weaves a tale of disaster, resilience and survival.

Our Street
(retrosuburbia for kids)

Join the kids living in a suburban Aussie street over seven decades, and into the near future. How do they live? What do they eat? How do their households work? Be inspired to make your home and street a happening place. Our Street is a fully illustrated story book for upper primary school age children.

It explores how suburban life changes between the 1950s and 2020s, and provides a positive vision of the future. It is a useful tool for parents and educators to help inspire children with positive solutions for sustainable and resilient living, whilst reflecting on Australian history.

Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

Holmgren’s seminal work, drawing together and integrating 25 years of thinking and teaching to show a whole new way of understanding and action behind a simple set of design principles. Essential reading for permaculture designers and accessible to a wide range of critical thinkers. An updated version is available as an eBook.

This 2017 revised edition is more accessible than the original, with redrawn graphics, corrected and amended text, new references and a newly designed layout that invites the reader into the world of whole systems thinking that is permaculture.


RetroSuburbia shows how Australians can downshift and retrofit their homes, gardens, communities and, above all, themselves to be more self-organised, sustainable and resilient into an uncertain future. It promises a challenging but exciting mix of satisfying work, a more meaningful way of living and hope for the next generation.

RetroSuburbia is part manual, part manifesto, informed by Holmgren’s global contribution as permaculture co-originator, leading permaculture practitioner and teacher, and world renowned ecological thinker. The book creatively explores the role of the Australian suburbs in activating the behavioural changes, cooperative based actions and practical solutions required for a rapid transformation to a carbon-positive low energy future.

A few titles from the wholesale catalogue