Toby Hemenway was the author of the first major North American book on permaculture, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, as well as The Permaculture City. After obtaining a degree in biology from Tufts University, Toby worked for many years as a researcher in genetics and immunology, first in academic laboratories at Harvard and the University of Washington in Seattle, and then at Immunex, a major medical biotech company. At about the time he was growing dissatisfied with the direction biotechnology was taking, he discovered permaculture, a design approach based on ecological principles that creates sustainable landscapes, homes, and workplaces.
A career change followed, and Toby and his wife spent ten years creating a rural permaculture site in southern Oregon. He was associate editor of Permaculture Activist, a journal of ecological design and sustainable culture, from 1999 to 2004. He taught permaculture and consulted and lectured on ecological design throughout the country, and his writing appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Kitchen Gardener. Toby passed away in 2016.