The Solar House
By Daniel D. Chiras
Passive solar heating and passive cooling—approaches known as natural conditioning—provide comfort throughout the year by reducing, or eliminating, the need for fossil fuel. Yet while heat from sunlight and ventilation from breezes is free for the taking, few modern architects or builders really understand the principles involved.
Now Dan Chiras, author of the popular book The Natural House, brings those principles up to date for a new generation of solar enthusiasts.
The techniques required to heat and cool a building passively have been used for thousands of years. Early societies such as the Native American Anasazis and the ancient Greeks perfected designs that effectively exploited these natural processes. The Greeks considered anyone who didn't use passive solar to heat a home to be a barbarian!
In the United States, passive solar architecture experienced a major resurgence of interest in the 1970s in response to crippling oil embargoes. With grand enthusiasm but with scant knowledge (and sometimes little common sense), architects and builders created a wide variety of solar homes. Some worked pretty well, but looked more like laboratories than houses. Others performed poorly, overheating in the summer because of excessive or misplaced windows and skylights, and growing chilly in the colder months because of insufficient thermal mass and insulation and poor siting.
In The Solar House, Dan Chiras sets the record straight on the vast potential for passive heating and cooling. Acknowledging the good intentions of misguided solar designers in the past, he highlights certain egregious—and entirely avoidable—errors. More importantly, Chiras explains in methodical detail how today's home builders can succeed with solar designs.
Now that energy efficiency measures including higher levels of insulation and multi-layered glazing have become standard, it is easier than ever before to create a comfortable and affordable passive solar house that will provide year-round comfort in any climate.
Moreover, since modern building materials and airtight construction methods sometimes result in air-quality and even toxicity problems, Chiras explains state-of-the-art ventilation and filtering techniques that complement the ancient solar strategies of thermal mass and daylighting. Chiras also explains the new diagnostic aids available in printed worksheet or software formats, allowing readers to generate their own design schemes.
Available in: Paperback
No Risk Ranching
By Greg Judy
Greg Judy was forced to liquidate his cow herd to pay debt in 1996. By the end of the following year he was dead broke and figured the family farm was history. A quote from Allan Nation, editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer magazine changed his whole view of ranching. Nation said, “Your sole purpose should be not to own the land, but to make a living from the land.”
Inspired by that approach, Judy started looking for idle, non-developed pastureland. By focusing on leasing rather than owning land, his grazing operation grew from 40 stockers to 1100 head. By custom grazing on leased land he was able to pay his entire farm and home loan within three years. Today he has four farms and leases 12.
No Risk Ranching, Custom Grazing on Leased Land describes how he found and managed his first and subsequent leases. He offers a detailed guide for other graziers to follow on how to find idle land to lease; calculate the cost of a lease; draft and write a land lease contract (with examples included); develop good water and portable fencing on leased land; promote wildlife and improve timber stands; keep accurate records and more.
No Risk Ranching was written to help other graziers from making the same mistakes Judy made. He writes, “I am convinced that in the USA our pastures are one of our most underutilized natural resources. I am not against land ownership. I just feel like it is an awful hardship on a new blooming grazing business.”
How to Make a Forest Garden, 3rd Edition
By Patrick Whitefield
A forest garden is a food-producing garden, based on the model of a natural woodland or forest. It is made up of fruit and nut trees, fruit bushes, perennial vegetables and herbs. It can be tailored to fit any space, from a tiny urban back yard to a large rural garden.
A close copy of a natural ecosystem, it is perhaps the most ecologically friendly way of gardening open to us.
It is also a low-maintenance way of gardening. Once established there is none of the digging, sowing, planting out and hoeing of the conventional kitchen garden. The main task is picking up the produce!
This highly practical, yet inspiring book gives you everything you need to know in order to create a beautiful and productive forest garden,
Forest gardening is an important element of permaculture. This book explains in detail permaculture design for temperate climates and contains much of interest for anybody wanting to introduce sustainable practices into their garden.
A Cafecito Story / El cuento del cafecito
By Julia Alvarez and Bill Eichner and Belkis Ramirez
A Cafecito Story is a story of love, coffee, birds and hope. It is a beautifully written eco-fable by best-selling author Julia Alvarez. Based on her and her husband's experiences trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, A Cafecito Story shows how the return to the traditional methods of shade-grown coffee can rehabilitate and rejuvenate the landscape and human culture, while at the same time preserving vital winter habitat for threatened songbirds.
Not a political or environmental polemic, A Cafecito Story is instead a poetic, modern fable about human beings at their best. The challenge of producing coffee is a remarkable test of our ability to live more sustainably, caring for the land, growers, and consumers in an enlightened and just way. Written with Julia Alvarez's deft touch, this is a story that stimulates while it comforts, waking the mind and warming the soul like the first cup of morning coffee. Indeed, this story is best read with a strong cup of organic, shade-grown, fresh-brewed coffee.
The Hand-Sculpted House
By Ianto Evans and Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley
Are you ready for the Cob Cottage? This is a building method so old and so simple that it has been all but forgotten in the rush to synthetics. A cob cottage,cobb, however, might be the ultimate expression of ecological design, a structure so attuned to its surroundings that its creators refer to it as "an ecstatic house."
The authors build a house the way others create a natural garden. They use the oldest, most available materials imaginable--earth, clay, sand, straw, and water--and blend them to redefine the future (and past) of building. Cob (the word comes from an Old English root, meaning "lump") is a mixture of non-toxic, recyclable, and often free materials. Building with cob requires no forms, no cement, and no machinery of any kind. Builders actually sculpt their structures by hand.
Building with earth is nothing new to America; the oldest structures on the continent were built with adobe bricks. Adobe, however, has been geographically limited to the Southwest. The limits of cob are defined only by the builder's imagination.
Cob offers answers regarding our role in Nature, family and society, about why we feel the ways that we do, about what's missing in our lives. Cob comes as a revelation, a key to a saner world.
Cob has been a traditional building process for millennia in Europe, even in rainy and windy climates like the British Isles, where many cob buildings still serve as family homes after hundreds of years. The technique is newly arrived to the Americas, and, as with so many social trends, the early adopters are in the Pacific Northwest.
Cob houses (or cottages, since they are always efficiently small by American construction standards) are not only compatible with their surroundings, they ARE their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. They are full of light, energy-efficient, and cozy, with curved walls and built-in, whimsical touches. They are delightful. They are ecstatic.
Seed to Seed
By Suzanne Ashworth
Seed to Seed is a complete seed-saving guide that describes specific techniques for saving the seeds of 160 different vegetables. This book contains detailed information about each vegetable, including its botanical classification, flower structure and means of pollination, required population size, isolation distance, techniques for caging or hand-pollination, and also the proper methods for harvesting, drying, cleaning, and storing the seeds.
Seed to Seed is widely acknowledged as the best guide available for home gardeners to learn effective ways to produce and store seeds on a small scale. The author has grown seed crops of every vegetable featured in the book, and has thoroughly researched and tested all of the techniques she recommends for the home garden.
This newly updated and greatly expanded Second Edition includes additional information about how to start each vegetable from seed, which has turned the book into a complete growing guide. Local knowledge about seed starting techniques for each vegetable has been shared by expert gardeners from seven regions of the United States-Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast/Gulf Coast, Midwest, Southwest, Central West Coast, and Northwest.
The Lost Language of Plants
By Stephen Harrod Buhner
This could be the most important book you will read this year. Around the office at Chelsea Green it is referred to as the "pharmaceutical Silent Spring." Well-known author, teacher, lecturer, and herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner has produced a book that is certain to generate controversy. It consists of three parts:
The book will affect readers on rational and emotional planes. It is grounded in both a New Age spiritual sensibility and hard science. While some of the author's claims may strike traditional thinkers as outlandish, Buhner presents his arguments with such authority and documentation that the scientific underpinnings, however unconventional, are completely credible.
The overall impact is a powerful, eye-opening expos' of the threat that our allopathic Western medical system, in combination with our unquestioning faith in science and technology, poses to the primary life-support systems of the planet. At a time when we are preoccupied with the terrorist attacks and the possibility of biological warfare, perhaps it is time to listen to the planet. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the state of the environment, the state of health care, and our cultural sanity.
Family Friendly Farming
By Joel Salatin
Saving the landscape, rebuilding entrepreneurial rural families, and protecting nutritious food are the themes of this timeless treatise-hence the word "testament." Delving into the soul of the Salatin family's nationally acclaimed Polyface Farm, author Joel Salatin offers Family Friendly Farming as the key to dealing with resource issues, food policy, and social fabric.
With humor and personal stories, he opens his family and farm convictions for all to see, share, and enjoy. Written from his unabashed "Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist" perspective, his ideas are guaranteed to encourage and challenge virtually every "ism" in the culture. It will captivate anyone passionate about healing the land, healing families, and healing the food supply.
For several decades young people have been leaving the family farm. The ones left behind are now responsible for society's greatest resources: clean land and clean food. Anyone dedicated to preserving these resources will find in these pages a nongovernmental, self-empowerment approach to environmentalism and food safety.
The heart of this book is aimed toward parents tired of their Dilbert cubicle at the end of the expressway who want to reconnect with their children through a pastoral lifestyle. It's written for anyone who yearns to grow old working with and being adored by value-sharing grandchildren and honored by passionate, productive adult children. Family Friendly Farming can make any family business more viable and any family more functional.
The ten-chapter section on how to get the kids to love the farm is an invaluable addition to any collection of child-rearing manuals. Salatin moves from the family team-building section into a practical discussion on how to increase income per acre and create new, white-collar salaries without buying more land, equipment, or buildings. He deals with the unique and thorny issues surrounding any family business by using his own multi-generational family farm experience as his base for insight and wisdom.
Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties
By Carol Deppe
All gardeners and farmers should be plant breeders, says author Carol Deppe. Developing new vegetable varieties doesn't require a specialized education, a lot of land, or even a lot of time. It can be done on any scale. It's enjoyable. It's deeply rewarding. You can get useful new varieties much faster than you might suppose. And you can eat your mistakes.
Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:
In this one-size-fits-all world of multinational seed companies, plant patents, and biotech monopolies, more and more gardeners and farmers are recognizing that they need to "take back their seeds." They need to save more of their own seed, grow and maintain the best traditional and regional varieties, and develop more of their own unique new varieties. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving shows the way, and offers an exciting introduction to a whole new gardening adventure.
Knowledge Rich Ranching
By Allan Nation
Knowledge Rich Ranching is not a how-to book on raising cattle. It is a book on how the cattle business works. It has not been sanitized nor edited by Ms. Rosy Scenario. It is about the way things really are. It is about fear and greed, and how the commodity business eats alive the naive and unaware. In today’s market, it is knowledge that separates the rich from the rest.
Knowledge Rich Ranching is packed with guidelines for how to read and profit from the upside-down swings of the cattle cycle. It describes various bookkeeping methods and tax tips; covers cost cutting to eliminate profit leaks; reveals the secrets of high profit grass farms and ranches; details strategies for using Management-intensive Grazing in humid and arid climates as well as during adverse weather conditions. And it explains family and business structure with suggestions for estate planning to keep today’s ranch or grass farm viable and profitable for future generations.
While focused on raising cattle, the principles in Knowledge Rich Ranching apply equally to producers of other livestock enterprises—sheep, in particular, which run backwards to the cattle cycle and can add a complementary enterprise to an existing cattle operation. Anyone who has profit as his or her goal will benefit from this book. It is the first to cover the business management principles of grassland farming and ranching.
By Gene Logsdon
Here we go. Gene "The Contrary Farmer" Logsdon has taken on some controversial subjects in his time, but this time he has bitten off ("sipped on" doesn't sound right) a topic bound to raise strong feelings on both sides of society's moral boundary lines. His subject is alcohol and its traditional role on the family homestead. Not surprisingly, Gene speaks the bare-naked truth, and finds a lot more good than bad to say about booze.
Alcohol has historically played a significant role in agricultural life. In colonial times it was the most "liquid" alternative to hard currency as a means of exchange. Alcohol was the most reliable, safest, and most convenient way to store the grain harvest, and was an integral commodity on nearly every farmstead. Because it was so valued--does this surprise us?--the government muscled in, looking for its own piece of the action. George Washington was the first of many politicians to regulate alcohol as a means to generate revenues and gain political control.
Good Spirits is a rare and brave revisionist view of history. Logsdon is a master at exposing the absurdity of the commonplace. Does it really make sense that the government can make it illegal for us to combine common substances (grain, water, and yeast) on our own property? Can it be true that every war effort in the nation's history has been fueled literally and figuratively by alcohol and the tax revenues it produces? Why must the farmer fund the government that oppresses him?
In between good-natured tirades, Logsdon makes sure the reader learns some valuable lessons. He tells us how to make beer; he teaches the rudiments of distilling; he interviews Booker Noe (patron of America's First Family of bourbon) to tell us how to sip and tell; and he adds lively tales from alcohol's quasi-legitimate past. This is vintage Contrary Farmer: 100-proof, single-barrel select. Good Spirits is outrageous, entertaining, enlightening, and an eye-poppingly interesting, natural and holistic look at the role of alcohol. You will savor this book like a snifter of Calvados, the double-distilled apple brandy of Normandy that evaporates on the tongue like a heavenly ambrosia. Heady stuff, but delicious when consumed in moderation.
The Maple Sugar Book
By Helen Nearing and Scott Nearing
A half-century ago, the world was trying to heal the wounds of global war. People were rushing to make up for lost time, grasping for material wealth. This was the era of "total electric living," a phrase beamed into living rooms by General Electric spokesman Ronald Reagan. Environmental awareness was barely a gleam in the eye of even Rachel Carson.
And yet, Helen and Scott Nearing were on a totally different path, having left the city for the country, eschewing materialistic society in a quest for the self-sufficiency they deemed "the Good Life." Chelsea Green is pleased to honor their example by publishing a new edition of The Maple Sugar Book, complete with a new section of never-before-published photos of the Nearings working on the sugaring operation, and an essay by Greg Joly relating the story behind the book and placing the Nearings' work in the context of their neighborhood and today's maple industry.
Maple sugaring was an important source of cash for the Nearings, as it continues to be for many New England farmers today. This book is filled with a history of sugaring from Native American to modern times, with practical tips on how to sap trees, process sap, and market syrup. In an age of microchips and software that are obsolete before you can install them, maple sugaring is a process that's stood the test of time. Fifty years after its original publication in 1950, The Maple Sugar Book is as relevant as ever to the homestead or small-scale commercial practitioner.
Permaculture in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition
Permaculture is a creative approach to abundant and fulfilling lifestyles. It is for everyone wishing to live sustainable and tread more lightly on the Earth. Permaculture is an ecologically sound approach to providing for our needs, including our food, shelter and financial and social structures. It is based on co-operating with nature and caring for the Earth and its people. Permaculture in a Nutshell is a concise and accessible introduction to the principles and practice of permaculture in temperate climates. It covers how permaculture works in the city, the country and on the farm and explores ways in which people can work together to recreate real communities. This inspiring book clearly describes how we can live fruitfully and sustainably and is essential reading for anyone wishing to reduce their environmental impact.
By Paul Krafel
Seeing Nature is a series of true stories or parables that offer tools for understanding relationships in the natural world. Many of the stories take the reader to wild landscapes, including canyons, tundra, and mountain ridges, while others contemplate the human-made world: water-diversion trenches and supermarket check-out lines. At one point, Krafel discovers a world in a one-inch-square patch of ordinary ground.
Inspiring for parents and teachers seeking to encourage excitement about the positive role of people in nature, Krafel's work harkens to St. Exupery's The Little Prince, Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted Trees. As Barbara Damrosch has noted:
[This book] is a gift.... With curiosity, wit, and a spare and graceful style, Krafel notes why birds in flocks land as they do, how islands can move upstream in a river, how kelp forests, swaying gently, break the force of the sea's power, how tundra plants create whole ecosystems on bare rock from mere specks of life. Yet there are no long-winded sermons about the woods, or cute anthropomorphizations of animals. The book's economical, unsentimental style is part of its originality.
Paul Krafel's years as a park ranger afforded him time to walk and think—his job was to observe the world around him. He is now a teacher, creating a curriculum for young people that is built on a startlingly simple truth: The world around us is an extended conversation between "upward spirals"—nature in regenerative, procreative modes—and downward spirals toward entropy and disintegration. As nature refreshes and rebuilds, the downward spirals are overcome. Nature's process becomes the process of replenishing hope.
The Safari Companion
By Richard D. Estes
Since its original publication in 1993, The Safari Companion has been the best field guide to observing and understanding the behavior of African mammals. An indispensable tool for naturalists traveling to Africa, this new edition has been revised to acknowledge the enthusiasm to those watching these magnificent animals at zoos and wildlife parks, and on film.
The Safari Companion enables readers to recognize and interpret visible behavioral activities, such as courtship rituals, territorial marking, aggression, and care of young. Each account of over 80 species includes a behavioral table in which the unique actions of the hoofed mammals, carnivores, and primates are described for easy reference. In addition, useful maps show the major national boundaries, vegetation zones, and game parks relevant to the guide. The book includes an extensive glossary, as well as tips on wildlife photography, a list of organizations working to protect African wildlife, and advice on where and when to see the animals.
By Eliot Coleman
If you love the joys of eating home-garden vegetables but always thought those joys had to stop at the end of summer, this book is for you. Eliot Coleman introduces the surprising fact that most of the United States has more winter sunshine than the south of France. He shows how North American gardeners can successfully use that sun to raise a wide variety of traditional winter vegetables in backyard cold frames and plastic covered tunnel greenhouses without supplementary heat. Coleman expands upon his own experiences with new ideas learned on a winter-vegetable pilgrimage across the ocean to the acknowledged kingdom of vegetable cuisine, the southern part of France, which lies on the 44th parallel, the same latitude as his farm in Maine.
This story of sunshine, weather patterns, old limitations and expectations, and new realities is delightfully innovative in the best gardening tradition. Four-Season Harvest will have you feasting on fresh produce from your garden all through the winter.
To learn more about the possibility of a four-season farm, please visit Coleman's website www.fourseasonfarm.com.
The Toilet Papers
By Sim Van Der Ryn
A classic is back in print! One of the favorite books of 1970s back-to-the-landers, The Toilet Papers is an informative, inspiring, and irreverent look at how people have dealt with their wastes through the centuries. In a historical survey, Van der Ryn provides the basic facts concerning human wastes, and describes safe designs for toilets that reduce water consumption and avert the necessity for expensive and unreliable treatment systems. The Toilet Papers provides do-it-yourself plans for a basic compost privy and a variety of graywater systems.
The Bread Builders
By Alan Scott and Daniel Wing
Creating the perfect loaf of bread--a challenge that has captivated bakers for centuries--is now the rage in the hippest places, from Waitsfield, Vermont, to Point Reyes Station, California. Like the new generation of beer drinkers who consciously seek out distinctive craft-brewed beers, many people find that their palates have been reawakened and re-educated by the taste of locally baked, whole-grain breads. Today's village bakers are finding an important new role--linking tradition with a sophisticated new understanding of natural levens, baking science and oven construction.
Daniel Wing, a lover of all things artisinal, had long enjoyed baking his own sourdough bread. His quest for the perfect loaf began with serious study of the history and chemistry of bread baking, and eventually led to an apprenticeship with Alan Scott, the most influential builder of masonry ovens in America.
Alan and Daniel have teamed up to write this thoughtful, entertaining, and authoritative book that shows you how to bake superb healthful bread and build your own masonry oven. The authors profile more than a dozen small-scale bakers around the U.S. whose practices embody the holistic principles of community-oriented baking based on whole grains and natural leavens.
The Bread Builders will appeal to a broad range of readers, including:
The Soul of Soil
By Joseph Smillie and Grace Gershuny
Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.
Now back in print, this eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.
Chapter 2, "Understanding the Soil System," is alone worth the price of admission. Gershuny and Smillie give lay readers and experts a clear explanation of subjects--soil life and nutrient cycles--that have confounded most authors. Nowhere will the reader find simpler and more coherent descriptions of key concepts including cation exchange capacity and chelation.
There are other books about soil available, including Grace Gershuny's comprehensive Start with the Soil, and there are books that feature chapters on soil building. What distinguishes The Soil of Soilis the authors' concise presentation; they give readers important information, including technical essentials, without getting bogged down in scientific or quasiscientific mumbo-jumbo. In addition, useful tables list specific compost materials, green manures, and other resources that allow growers to translate into action the more general information provided by the book.
The soil-building techniques featured include:
Updates to the 1999 edition include analysis of Proposed Rules for the National Organic Standards, and expanded recommendations for private testing services and soil-testing equipment for home gardeners and organic farmers.
All of us involved in the cultivation of plants--from the backyard gardener to the largest farmer--need to help regenerate a "living soil," for only in the diversity of the soil and its creatures can we ensure the long-term health of ourselves and our environment. The Soul of Soil offers everyone a basic understanding of what soil is and what we can do to improve our own patch of it. Seen in this light, this practical handbook will be an inspiration as well.
Judevine, 2nd Edition
By David Budbill
The stage is Judevine, an imaginary town in northern Vermont. This is a small stage, sometimes cold and darkened, but filled with characters so finely etched that they stand out as clearly as steeples against the sky. David Budbill plunges into the soul of New England to find characters and stories with lessons for anyone wanting to find the intrinsic nature of the region that has been called "all of America's backyard." These dark, lyrical, funny narrative poems portray the hopes and joys, pains and despair of people who have been bypassed or bruised by the twentieth century. Budbill has written a song of the down-and-out or overlooked, a song of the unsung. This anthem of the rural renaissance is microcosmic in setting, but universal in scope.