BOOKS: PERMACULTURE DESIGN
The Permaculture Handbook:
Garden Farming for Town and Country
By Peter Bane, Foreword by David Holmgren
2012, 608 pages
Review the Table of Contents
The urban landscape has swallowed vast swaths of prime farmland across North America. Imagine how much more self-reliant our communities would be if 30 million acres of lawns were made productive again. Permaculture is a practical way to apply ecological design principles to food, housing, and energy systems; making growing fruits, vegetables and livestock easier and more sustainable.
The Permaculture Handbook is a step-by-step, beautifully illustrated guide to creating resilient and prosperous households and neighborhoods, complemented by extensive case studies of three successful farmsteads and market gardens. This comprehensive manual casts garden farming as both an economic opportunity and a strategy for living well with less money.
It shows how, by mimicking the intelligence of nature and applying appropriate technologies such as solar and environmental design, permaculture can:
Create an abundance of fresh, nourishing local produce
Reduce dependence on expensive, polluting fossil fuels
Drought-proof our cities and countryside
Convert waste into wealth
Permaculture is about working with the earth and with each other to repair the damage of industrial overreach and to enrich the living world that sustains us. The Permaculture Handbook is the definitive, practical North American guide to this revolutionary practice, and is a must-read for anyone concerned about creating food security, resilience and a legacy of abundance rather than depletion.
The Permaculture City
by Toby Hemenway
Permaculture is more than just the latest buzzword; it offers positive solutions for many of the environmental and social challenges confronting us. And nowhere are those remedies more needed and desired than in our cities. The Permaculture City provides a new way of thinking about urban living, with practical examples for creating abundant food, energy security, close-knit communities, local and meaningful livelihoods, and sustainable policies in our cities and towns. The same nature-based approach that works so beautifully for growing food―connecting the pieces of the landscape together in harmonious ways―applies perfectly to many of our other needs.
Toby Hemenway, one of the leading practitioners and teachers of permaculture design, illuminates a new way forward through examples of edge-pushing innovations, along with a deeply holistic conceptual framework for our cities, towns, and suburbs.
The Permaculture City begins in the garden but takes what we have learned there and applies it to a much broader range of human experience; we’re not just gardening plants but people, neighborhoods, and even cultures. Hemenway lays out how permaculture design can help towndwellers solve the challenges of meeting our needs for food, water, shelter, energy, community, and livelihood in sustainable, resilient ways. Readers will find new information on designing the urban home garden and strategies for gardening in community, rethinking our water and energy systems, learning the difference between a “job” and a “livelihood,” and the importance of placemaking and an empowered community.
This important book documents the rise of a new sophistication, depth, and diversity in the approaches and thinking of permaculture designers and practitioners. Understanding nature can do more than improve how we grow, make, or consume things; it can also teach us how to cooperate, make decisions, and arrive at good solutions.
Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual
by Bill Mollison
1988, 576 pages
Global treatment of cultivated ecosystems. Resource for all landscapes and climates. Lucid illustrations by Andrew Jeeves bring Mollison’s concepts to life. Essential, in-depth look at earth repair and practical design. This is the definitive Permaculture design manual in print since 1988. It is one of the primary textbooks and curriculum for the 72-hour Certificate course in Permaculture Design.
Written for teachers, students and designers, it follows on and greatly enlarges on the initial introductory texts, permaculture One (1978) and Permaculture Two (1979).
Very little of the material found in this book is reproduced from the former texts. It covers design methodologies and strategies for both urban and rural applications, describing property design and natural farming techniques.
RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future
by David Holmgren 2018
This new book (592 pages) from David Holmgren shows how people can downshift and retrofit their homes, gardens, communities and, above all, themselves to be more self-organized, 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.
Holmgren has written the book deliberately with an southern Australian focus, drawing heavily on his own direct experience. The concepts and actions can be applied in most suburban environments.
RetroSuburbia is divided into three main sections: the Built, the Biological, and the Behavioral—along with the introductory section ‘Setting the scene.’
RetroSuburbia is part manual and part manifesto. The book shows how Australian suburbs can be transformed to become productive and resilient in an energy decent future. It focuses on what can be done by an individual at the household level (rather than community or government levels).
RetroSuburbia is a source of inspiration, introducing concepts and outlining patterns and practical solutions. It empowers people to make positive changes in their lives. As with David’s previous work, it is thought provoking and provocative.
If you are already on the path of downshifting and living simply, exploring RetroSuburbia will be a confirmation and celebration that you are on the right track and guide you on the next steps forward. If you are just beginning this journey, it provides a guide to the diversity of options and helps work out priorities for action. For people concerned about making ends meet in more challenging times, RetroSuburbia provides a new lens for creatively sidestepping the obstacles.
Permaculture Pioneers: Stories From the New Frontier
Edited by Kerry Dawborn & Caroline Smith
2011, 364 pages
(Read Review – PDF)
This book explores social and inner change for sustainability, charting a history of the first three decades of permaculture, through the personal stories of Australian permaculturists. From permaculture co-originator David Holmgren, to ABC Gardening Australia presenter Josh Byrne, the authors span the generations and the continent.
These stories represent the scope, depth and diversity of Australian permaculture. They explore some of the influences on those who have embraced it, record milestones and highlight recurring themes. The editors’ contributions and afterword by social ecologist Professor Stuart B Hill frame the stories in terms of transformation of the inner landscape of our minds and hearts, as the critical starting point for the outer change that is needed.
Like tough, resilient pioneer plants with their ability to grow in barren and hostile ground, social pioneers work courageously at the edges of accepted norms, bringing new ideas and opportunities. They build knowledge, experience and new perspectives – fertile soil for those who follow.
Included are stories from stories from David Holmgren, Terry White, Robyn Francis, Max Lindegger, Vries Gravestein, Jeff Nugent, Geoff Lawton, Russ Grayson, Fiona Campbell, Annemarie & Graham Brookman, Rosemary Morrow, Martha Hills, Janet Millington, Robin Clayfield, Alanna Moore, Naomi Coleman, Virginia Solomon, Ross Mars, Jill Finnane, Ian Lillington, Jane Scott, Josh Byrne, Tony Jansen, Morag Gamble and afterword by Stuart B. Hill
The Holistic Life: Sustainability Through Permaculture
by Ian Lillington
2007, 144 pages
In this timely book, the author sets out the vision for a sustainable planet as well as methods we can all use to get there. The time has now come to get very serious about using alternatives and conserving what we already have, rather than living as if there is an unlimited supply of what we all know to be limited resources. Within this book are simple starting points which, when implemented, will be a small but significant change.
Some of the subjects covered will help you see a world of new possibilities:
A different way of seeing the world; Meeting new challenges; Permaculture – an antidote to consumer society; Feeding ourselves; Growing your own; Personal & household strategies for sustainable living; Using less fossil fuel – understanding our energy addiction; Villages within the city & community gardens; Permaculture principles.
Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability
by David Holmgren, Co-Originator of the Permaculture Concept
2017, 279 pp.
This book, recently revised, builds on the extraordinary success of the permaculture concept and global permaculture movement (over the last 25 years), to provide a more cerebral and controversial contribution to the sustainability debate.
David Holmgren is an ecological pioneer destined to have a major influence on permaculture’s evolution.
“If the ‘Permaculture Principles’ that David Holmgren discusses in this extremely important book were applied to all that we do, we would be well on the road to sustainability, and beyond.” Professor Stuart B Hill (Foundation Chair of the Social Ecology University of Western Sydney).
Are there ways to live within nature’s limits while providing a secure future for our children and justice for everyone? We think so. Read this book.
Introduction to Permaculture
by Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay
2nd printing, 2000, 218 pages
The basic argument for permanent agriculture: how to feed and house yourself in any climate with the least use of land, energy, and repetitive labor. Supersedes Permaculture One and Two. Topics in this book include:
– Energy-efficient site analysis, planning and design methods
– House placement and design for template, dryland and tropical regions
Urban permaculture: garden layouts, land access and community funding systems
Using fences, trellis, greenhouse and shadehouse to best effect
Chicken and pig forage systems; tree crops and pasture integration for stock
Orchards and home woodlots for temperate, arid and tropical climates
Permaculture gardens: energy-saving designs and techniques
How to influence microclimate around the house and garden
Large section on selected plant species lists, with climate tolerance, heights and uses
Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth
by Jessi Bloom & Dave Boehnlein
2015, 336 pages, Full Color
A quite pure and well refined grasp of the profound depth and power of permaculture design, ranking this introductory work with the best in the field.—Peter Bane.
Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition
By Toby Hemenway
2009, 328pages, Full Color
The first edition of Gaia’s Garden sparked the imagination of America’s home gardeners, introducing permaculture’s central message: Working with Nature, not against her, results in more beautiful, abundant, and forgiving gardens. This extensively revised and expanded second edition broadens the reach and depth of the permaculture approach for urban and suburban growers.
Many people mistakenly think that ecological gardening—which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants—can take place only on a large, multiacre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it’s fun and easy to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including:
Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure
Catching and conserving water in the landscape
Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals
Growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods
This revised and updated edition also features a new chapter on urban permaculture, designed especially for people in cities and suburbs who have very limited growing space. Whatever size yard or garden you have to work with, you can apply basic permaculture principles to make it more diverse, more natural, more productive, and more beautiful. Best of all, once it’s established, an ecological garden will reduce or eliminate most of the backbreaking work that’s needed to maintain the typical lawn and garden.
BOOKS: AGRICULTURE & ECOLOGY
The Forest Garden Greenhouse:
How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis
by Jerome Osentowski
2015, 304 pages
The history of the high-altitude greenhouses at CRMPI + how to do it yourself, from flower towers to climate batteries, with a hammock and sauna. Don’t miss out!
Publishers Weekly– “Osentowski shows how building and maintaining a Mediterranean or tropical greenhouse full of figs, lemons, papayas, and bananas can be both affordable and practical. Drawing on his 30 years of experimentation and teaching in the harsh, dry mountain environment of his Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, he offers lush descriptions of his five greenhouses and in-depth, layered advice on designing and constructing a balmy winter retreat. His method uses a ‘climate battery’ consisting of tubes buried underground to collect and hold warm air from the greenhouse, which then recirculate it when the temperature cools, backed up in the coldest days with a pellet or wood stove that can simultaneously heat an attached sauna. Osentowski admits that he prefers a hands-on method of teaching, and his written tours through greenhouses are sometimes hard to follow. Novices may be intimidated by the lack of step-by-step, formulaic instruction. But more experienced gardeners, builders, and tinkerers, and even intrepid beginners willing to carefully observe, compute, and ponder, will find this readable guide jam-packed with enough information and inspiration to help them attempt their own indoor paradises.”
The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka
by Larry Korn
2015, 288 pages
A biography of the university agronomist turned natural farmer. The history of Fukuoka’s rice farm and citrus orchard in Japan and the author’s long association with him.One-Straw Revolutionary represents the first commentary on the work of the late Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka (1913 – 2008), widely considered to be natural farming’s most influential practitioner. Mr. Fukuoka is perhaps most known for his bestselling book The One-Straw Revolution (1978), a manifesto on the importance of no-till agriculture, which was at the time of publication a radical challenge to the global systems that supply the world’s food, and still inspires readers today. Larry Korn, who apprenticed with Mr. Fukuoka in Japan at the time, translated the manuscript and brought it to the United States, knowing it would change the conversation about food forever.
The One-Straw Revolution, edited by Korn and Wendell Berry, was an immediate international success, and established Mr. Fukuoka as a leading voice in the fight against conventional industrial agriculture. In this new book, through his own personal narrative, Larry Korn distills his experience of more than thirty-five years of study with Mr. Fukuoka, living and working on his farm on Shikoku Island, and traveling with Mr. Fukuoka to the United States on two six-week visits.One-Straw Revolutionary is the first book to look deeply at natural farming and intimately discuss the philosophy and work of Mr. Fukuoka. In addition to giving his personal thoughts about natural farming, Korn broadens the discussion by pointing out natural farming’s kinship with the ways of indigenous cultures and traditional Japanese farming. At the same time, he clearly distinguishes natural farming from other forms of agriculture, including scientific and organic agriculture and permaculture. Korn also clarifies commonly held misconceptions about natural farming in ways Western readers can readily understand. And he explains how natural farming can be used practically in areas other than agriculture, including personal growth and development.The book follows the author on his travels from one back-to-the-land commune to another in the countryside of 1970s Japan, a journey that eventually led him to Mr. Fukuoka’s natural farm. Korn’s description of his time there, as well as traveling with Mr. Fukuoka during his visits to the United States, offers a rare, inside look at Mr. Fukuoka’s life. Readers will delight in this personal insight into one of the world’s leading agricultural thinkers.
Free-Range Chicken Gardens:
How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard
By Jessi Bloom | Photographs by Kate Baldwin
2012, 224 pages
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and while I’m admittedly biased in this case — that’s a real-life Garden Coop chicken coop in the background of the cover shot! — garden designer Jessi Bloom’s new book Free-Range Chicken Gardens is as lush and inspiring as the chicken paradise featured on the front.
The premise of the book is simple: how do you best integrate chickens into a backyard vegetable or permaculture garden. Bloom does a wonderful job of showing you how, drawing not only from her own experience as a garden designer and chicken keeper, but also from the experiences of a diverse group of chicken gardeners she profiles throughout the book. Topics covered include all the basics of keeping backyard chickens plus how to create a plan for a chicken-friendly garden and what plants to include/avoid in your chickens’ day yard. The illustrations are clear. Kate Baldwin’s photos are gorgeous.
Many gardeners fear chickens will peck away at their landscape, and chicken lovers often shy away from gardening for the same reason. But you can keep chickens and have a beautiful garden, too! Fresh eggs aren’t the only benefit — chickens can actually help your garden grow and thrive, even as your garden does the same for your chickens. For anyone who wants a fabulous garden where colorful chickens happily roam, Free-Range Chicken Gardens is the guide that will bring the dream home to roost.
Silvopasture: A Guide to Managing Grazing Animals, Forage Crops and Trees
2018, 320 pages, Paper with Color Illustrations
A system for regenerating land, storing carbon, and creating climate resilience
The concept of silvopasture challenges our notions of both modern agriculture and land use. For centuries, European settlers of North America have engaged in practices that separate the field from the forest, and even the food from the animal. Silvopasture systems integrate trees, animals, and forages in a whole-system approach that offers a number of benefits to the farmer and the environment. Such a system not only offers the promise of ecological regeneration of the land, but also an economical livelihood and even the ability to farm extensively while buffering the effects of a changing climate: increased rainfall, longer droughts, and more intense storm events.
Silvopasture, however, involves more than just allowing animals into the woodlot. It is intentional, steeped in careful observation skills and flexible to the dynamics of such a complex ecology. It requires a farmer who understands grassland ecology, forestry, and animal husbandry. The farmer needn’t be an expert in all of these disciplines, but familiar enough with them to make decisions on a wide variety of time scales. A silvopasture system will inevitably look different from year to year, and careful design coupled with creativity and visioning for the future are all part of the equation.
In this book, farmer Steve Gabriel offers examples of diverse current systems that include:
A black locust plantation for fence posts coupled with summer grazing pastures for cattle in central New York;
Oxen and pigs used to clear forested land in New Hampshire to create space for new market gardens and orchards;
Turkeys used for controlling pests and fertilization on a cider orchard and asparagus farm in New York; and
Sheep that graze the understory of hybrid chestnut and hickory trees at a nut nursery in Minnesota.
All of these examples share common goals, components, and philosophies. The systems may take several years to establish, but the long-term benefits include healthier animals and soils, greater yields, and the capacity to sequester atmospheric carbon better than forests or grasslands alone.
For all these reasons and more, Silvopasture offers farmers an innovative and ecological alternative to conventional grazing practice.
The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook for Green Building
by Johan van Lengen
2008, 720 pages
The first English translation of the international bestseller dripping with easy-to-understand drawings.
A former UN worker and prominent architect, Johan van Lengen has seen firsthand the desperate need for a “greener” approach to housing in impoverished tropical climates. This comprehensive book clearly explains every aspect of this endeavor, including design (siting, orientation, climate consideration), materials (sisal, cactus, bamboo, earth), and implementation. The author emphasizes throughout the book what is inexpensive and sustainable. Included are sections discussing urban planning, small-scale energy production, cleaning and storing drinking water, and dealing with septic waste, and all information is applied to three distinct tropical regions: humid areas, temporate areas, and desert climates. Hundreds of explanatory drawings by van Lengen allow even novice builders to get started.
Basic design, climate, and site planning for humid and dry climates. Includes info on adobe, rammed earth, bamboo, plaster, wood, concrete and ferro-cement; foundations, roofs, floors, walls, doors, windows, and eco-techniques; solar heating, water-powered electricity, natural cooling and ventilation; water purification, pumps, cisterns, septic tanks, composting toilets.
This book is for people who dream of building a simple home. It is also for those in the building trades: carpenters, masons, plumbers, and artisans, as well as for urban planners, rural technicians, and small community designers.
It covers basic design, use of a great variety of natural materials, construction details, natural heating and cooling, and water and sanitation techniques. Although many of the methods shown are traditional, more modern techniques are shown as well.
Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture: Creating an edible ecosystem
2013, 268 pages, Paper with Color Illustrations
Take your organic gardening to the next level by designing for relationships. A good introductory guide to the permaculture approach to vegetable gardening.
BOOKS: NATURAL BUILDING
Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods
by Clarke Snell and Timothy L. Callahan
2007, 614 pages
Snell and Callahan, whose popular Good House Book helped environmentally-minded readers create an earth-friendly home, have returned with a photo-packed, amazingly complete, start-to-finish guide to “green” house-building.
This absolutely groundbreaking manual doesn’t just talk about eco-friendly building techniques, but actually shows every step!
More than 1,200 close-up photographs, along with in-depth descriptions, follow the real construction of an alternative house from site selection to the addition of final-touch interior details.
Co-authors Clarke Snell and Timothy Callahan (a professional builder and contractor) provide thorough discussions of the fundamental concepts of construction, substitutes for conventional approaches, and planning a home that’s not only comfortable and beautiful, but environmentally responsible. Then, they roll up their sleeves and get to work assembling a guest house that incorporates four different alternative building methods: straw bale, cob, cordwood, and modified stick frame. The images show every move: how the site is cleared, the basic structure put together, the cob wall sculpted, the bales and cordwood stacked, a living roof created, and more. Most important, the manual conveys real-world challenges and processes, and offers dozens of sidebars with invaluable advice. It’s head and shoulders above all others in the field.
GROWERS & GARDENERS
The Market Gardener
by Jean-Martin Fortier
2014, 224 pages
Les Jardins de la Grelinette is a micro-farm located in eastern Quebec, just north of the American border. Growing on just 1.5 acres, owners Jean-Martin and Maude-Helène feed more than two hundred families through their thriving CSA and seasonal market stands and supply their signature mesclun salad mix to dozens of local establishments. The secret of their success is the low-tech, high-yield production methods they’ve developed by focusing on growing better rather than growing bigger, making their operation more lucrative and viable in the process.
The Market Gardener is a compendium of la Grelinette’s proven horticultural techniques and innovative growing methods.
This complete guide is packed with practical information on:
Setting-up a micro-farm by designing biologically intensive cropping systems, all with negligible capital outlay.
Farming without a tractor and minimizing fossil fuel inputs through the use of the best hand tools, appropriate machinery, and minimum tillage practices.
Growing mixed vegetables systematically with attention to weed and pest management, crop yields, harvest periods, and pricing approaches
Inspired by the French intensive tradition of maraichage and by iconic American vegetable grower Eliot Coleman, author and farmer Jean-Martin shows by example how to start a market garden and make it both very productive and profitable. Making a living wage farming without big capital outlay or acreages may be closer than you think.
Jean-Martin Fortier is a passionate advocate of strong local food systems and founder of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, an internationally recognized model for successful biointensive micro-farming.
The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits & Berries the Biological Way
by Michael Phillips
2012, 415 pages
(Read Review – PDF)
Many people want to grow fruit on a small scale but lack the insight to be successful orchardists. Growing tree fruits and berries is something virtually anyone with space and passionate desire can do – given wise guidance and a personal commitment to observe the teachings of the trees. A holistic grower knows that producing fruit is not about manipulating nature but more importantly, fostering nature. Orcharding then becomes a fascinating adventure sure to provide your family with all sorts of mouth-watering fruit.
The Holistic Orchard demystifies the basic skills everybody should know about the inner-workings of the orchard ecosystem, as well as orchard design, soil biology, and organic health management. Detailed insights on grafting, planting, pruning, and choosing the right varieties for your climate are also included, along with a step-by-step instructional calendar to guide growers through the entire orchard year. The extensive profiles of pome fruits (apples, pears, asian pears, quinces), stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums), and berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, and elderberries) will quickly have you savoring the prospects.
Phillips completely changed the conversation about healthy orcharding with his first bestselling book, The Apple Grower, and now he takes that dialogue even further, drawing connections between home orcharding and permaculture; the importance of native pollinators; the world of understory plantings with shade-tolerant berry bushes and other insectary plants; detailed information on cover crops and biodiversity; and the newest research on safe, homegrown solutions to pest and disease challenges.
All along the way, Phillips’ expertise and enthusiasm for healthy growing shines through, as does his ability to put the usual horticultural facts into an integrated ecology perspective. This book will inspire beginners as well as provide deeper answers for experienced fruit growers looking for scientific organic approaches. Exciting times lie ahead for those who now have every reason in the world to confidently plant that very first fruit tree!
The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden
by Stella Otto
1994, 250 pp, $17
For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower. The Backyard Orchardist includes help on selecting the best fruit trees and information about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers. 1994 Benjamin Franklin Award Winner
For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower. The Backyard Orchardist includes help on selecting the best fruit trees and information about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers.
Appendices include a fruit-growers monthly calendar, a trouble-shooting guide for reviving ailing trees, and a resource list of nurseries selling fruit trees.
The Backyard Berry Book: A Hands-On Guide To Growing Berries, Brambles, And Vine Fruit In The Home Garden
by Stella Otto
1995, 288 pages
The Backyard Berry Book provides the home gardener with a complete guide to growing strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, and kiwi fruit. It also includes details on soil nutrition and testing, important plant nutrients, and mulching.Discusses site selection, propagation, soil, and pest control, and offers advice on growing strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, lingonberries, currants, grapes, and kiwifruit.
Here’s hands-on advice from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower to help gardeners create an edible landscape. The Backyard Berry Book provided all the information that backyard gardeners need to grow strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, lingonberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, and kiwi fruit. Includes details on soil nutrition and testing; disease, pest, weed, and bird control; and trellis design. A trouble-shooting section and seasonal activity calendar will help ensure success.
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
by Eliot Coleman
2009, 250 pages
'Attention to detail is the major secret to success in any endeavor,’ writes Eliot Coleman on page 156 of this absorbing and happily detailed report on his ongoing efforts to grow flawless vegetables without hothouses on the frozen ‘back side’ of the year. In chapters covering everything from The Yearly Schedule and Greenhouse Design to Weed Control and Marketing, Coleman tracks his own constant search for perfection, a quality that has led more than one young farmer to exclaim ‘I’d follow him anywhere.’ Well worth reading even if you don’t grow vegetables, just to watch a master’s mind at work.” —Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life
From the bestselling author of The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, a revolutionary guide to year-round harvests of fresh, organic produce—with little or no energy inputs. Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable living trend that’s taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with The New Organic Grower published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.
Building on the techniques that hundreds of thousands of farmers and gardeners adopted from The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, this new book focuses on growing produce of unparalleled freshness and quality in customized unheated or, in some cases, minimally heated, movable plastic greenhouses.
Small-Scale Grain Raising (2nd Edition): An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers
by Gene Logsdon
2009, 307 pages
(Read Review – PDF)
First published in 1977, this book—from one of America’s most famous and prolific agricultural writers—became an almost instant classic among homestead gardeners and small farmers. Now fully updated and available once more, Small-Scale Grain Raising offers a entirely new generation of readers the best introduction to a wide range of both common and lesser-known specialty grains and related field crops, from corn, wheat, and rye to buckwheat, millet, rice, spelt, flax, and even beans and sunflowers.
More and more Americans are seeking out locally grown foods, yet one of the real stumbling blocks to their efforts has been finding local sources for grains, which are grown mainly on large, distant corporate farms. At the same time, commodity prices for grains—and the products made from them—have skyrocketed due to rising energy costs and increased demand. In this book, Gene Logsdon proves that anyone who has access to a large garden or small farm can (and should) think outside the agribusiness box and learn to grow healthy whole grains or beans—the base of our culinary food pyramid—alongside their fruits and vegetables..
Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web
by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis, forward by Elaine Ingham
2006, 196 pages
The 2011 Garden Writers of America Gold Award for Best Writing/Book proves soil is anything but an inert substance. Healthy soil is teeming with life — not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms.
When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains healthy plants, and thus become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial substances, many of them toxic to humans as well as other forms of life. But there is an alternative to this vicious circle: to garden in a way that strengthens, rather than destroys, the soil food web — the complex world of soil-dwelling organisms whose interactions create a nurturing environment for plants.
By eschewing jargon and overly technical language, the authors make the benefits of cultivating the soil food web available to a wide audience, from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals.
“Teaming with microbes” is extremely important for our times. It can lead the way to a much broader movement to sustainable gardening practices by winning over those who have been turned off by earlier organic ‘mumbo-jumbo.’ Yes, it is easy to understand, but it will not turn off those readers who bring a sophisticated scientific skepticism to their reading. It will inspire them. Review by John Gardner, “Urban Worms Organics”
Perennial Vegetables: From Artichoke to ‘Zuiki’ Taro, a Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious, East-to-Grow Edibles.
By Eric Toensmeier
2007, 242 pages
Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as the flowers in your perennial beds and borders—no annual tilling and potting and planting. They thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season. It sounds too good to be true, but in Perennial Vegetables author and plant specialist Eric Toensmeier (Edible Forest Gardens) introduces gardeners to a world of little-known and wholly underappreciated plants.
Ranging beyond the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke) to include such “minor” crops as ground cherry and ramps (both of which have found their way onto exclusive restaurant menus) and the much sought after, anti-oxidant-rich wolfberry (also known as goji berries), Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and satisfaction.
The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm: The D Acres Model for Creating and Managing an Ecologically Designed Educational Center
by Josh Trought
2015, 416 pages
With practical examples of alternative building, renewable energy, holistic forestry, no-till gardening, hospitality management, community outreach, and more.
For almost twenty years, D Acres of New Hampshire has challenged and expanded the common definition of a farm. As an educational center that researches, applies, and teaches skills of sustainable living and small-scale organic farming, D Acres serves more than just a single function to its community. By turns it is a hostel for travelers to northern New England, a training center for everything from metal- and woodworking to cob building and seasonal cooking, a gathering place for music, poetry, joke-telling, and potluck meals, and much more.
From working with oxen to working with a board of directors, no other book contains such a wealth of innovative ideas and ways to make your farm or homestead not only more sustainable, but more inclusive of, and beneficial to, the larger community.
Readers will find information on such subjects as:
Working with pigs to transform forested landscapes into arable land; Designing and building unique, multifunctional farm and community spaces using various techniques and materials; Creating and perpetuating diverse revenue streams to keep your farm organization solvent and resilient; Receiving maximum benefits and yields for the farm without denigrating resources or the regional ecology; Implementing a fair and effective governance structure; Constructing everything from solar dehydrators and cookers to treehouses and ponds; and, Connecting and partnering with the larger community beyond the farm.
Emphasizing collaboration, cooperation, and mutualism, this book promises to inspire a new generation of growers, builders, educators, artists, and dreamers who are seeking new and practical ways to address today’s problems on a community scale.
The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit
by Dmitry Orlov
2013, 288 pages
In the face of political impotence, looming resource depletion, and catastrophic climate change, many of us have become reconciled to an uncertain future. However, popular perception of how this future might actually unfold varies wildly from “a severe and prolonged recession,” to James Howard Kunstler’s “long emergency,” to the complete breakdown of civilization. In The Five Stages of Collapse, Dmitry Orlov posits a taxonomy of collapse, offering a surprisingly optimistic perspective on surviving the sweeping changes of the day with health and sanity intact.
Arguing that it is during periods of disruption and extreme uncertainty that broad cultural change becomes possible, Orlov steers the reader through the challenges of financial, commercial, and political collapse. He suggests that if the first three stages are met with the appropriate responses, further breakdown may be arrested before the extremes of social and cultural collapse are reached.
Drawing on a detailed examination of post-collapse societies, including the Somali people of Africa, the Pashtuns of Afghanistan, the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe, and even the Russian mafia, The Five Stages of Collapse describes successful adaptations in areas such as finance, self-governance, and social and cultural organization. These fascinating case studies provide a unique perspective on the characteristics that determine highly resilient communities. Shot through with Orlov’s trademark dark humor, this is an invaluable toolkit for creating workable post-collapse solutions.
Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt
to Peak Oil and Climate Change
by David Holmgren
2009, 144 pages
(Read Review – PDF)
In Future Scenarios, permaculture co-originator and leading sustainability innovator David Holmgren outlines four scenarios that bring to life the likely cultural, political, agricultural, and economic implications of peak oil and climate change, and the generations-long era of “energy descent” that faces us.
“Scenario planning,” Holmgren explains, “allows us to use stories about the future as a reference point for imagining how particular strategies and structures might thrive, fail, or be transformed.”
Future Scenarios depicts four very different futures. Each is a permutation of mild or destructive climate change, combined with either slow or severe energy declines. Probable futures, explains Holmgren, range from the relatively benign Green Tech scenario to the near catastrophic Lifeboats scenario.
As Adam Grubb, founder of the influential Energy Bulletin Web site, says, “These aren’t two-dimensional nightmarish scenarios designed to scare people into environmental action. They are compellingly fleshed-out visions of quite plausible alternative futures, which delve into energy, politics, agriculture, social, and even spiritual trends. What they do help make clear are the best strategies for preparing for and adapting to these possible futures.” Future Scenarios provides brilliant and balanced consideration of the world’s options and will prove to be one of the most important books of the year.
BOOKS: FOOD, WATER & WASTE RECYCLING
The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition
& Diet Dictocrats
by Sally Fallon
1999 2nd Edition, 672 pages
Recalling the culinary customs of our ancestors and looking ahead to a future of robust good health for young and old, this book offers modern families a fascinating guide to wise food choices and preparation techniques. Unites the wisdom of the ancients with the latest independent and accurate scientific research.
With her insistence that human food should have a much higher nutrient content than corporate industrialized farms are able to provide, Sally Fallon has awakened families all over North America to the fact that if they want to live full and happy lives, they won’t find the nutrition they need in packages at the grocery store and are going to have to put some effort into acquiring the quality of food that only small, owner-operated farms can provide. With the large network of “Weston A. Price groups” she has established in the U.S. and in Canada, she has undoubtedly saved more family farms in the last 10 years than any other person or organization. The well documented knowledge she shares makes both farms and families more healthy.
Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds
by Art Ludwig
2005, 125 pages
Covers water system design and construction of storage both in and above ground. Comprehensive, concise information about water quality, potential difficulties, and how to avoid them while creating your own supply for domestic use or fire control. With instructions for making ferrocement tanks.