The Organic Gardener's Handbook
By Frank Tozer
The Organic Gardeners Handbook covers every aspect of creating, managing and working in the organic vegetable garden. There are chapters on climate, site selection, soil science, fertility, bed preparation, composting, cover crops, planning, raising seedlings, direct sowing, watering, harvesting, weeding, pests, seed saving, harvesting, storage, season extension, greenhouses and more! It covers both the art and science of gardening with sufficient depth to have been used as a textbook in college horticulture classes, yet it explains everything in an easily understood and even entertaining manner. Whether you are a complete novice, or a veteran gardener, you will want to keep this book out in the garden shed with your tools. It is intended to be used in conjunction with its companion book, The New Vegetable Growers Handbook, which covers the cultivation of individual crops.
This new edition has been extensively revised, updated and expanded to be even more complete and authoritative, and is likely to be the most complete and useful guide to organic vegetable gardening that you will find anywhere.
Available in: Paperback
The Art and Science of Grazing
By Sarah Flack
New techniques for managing grazing animals are producing dramatic results that empower farmers to create grazing systems that are truly effective at meeting their farm and quality-of-life goals.
In this comprehensive book, nationally known grazing consultant Sarah Flack builds on a solid foundation of the key principles of grazing management to help farmers design and manage successful grazing systems.
Farmers and their farms will benefit greatly from Flack’s message that, in partnership with their animals, they can create profound change in pasture quality and productivity and the performance of the livestock. The book’s unique approach presents information first from the perspective of pasture plants, and then from the livestock perspective—helping farmers understand both plant and animal needs before setting up a grazing system.
Flack’s lifelong experience with grazing began when her family employed mob grazing techniques on the family farm to transform a brushy, overgrown series of fields into high-quality pasture. She has pursued graduate studies on pasture management at the University of Vermont, and she has successfully helped many farmers create positive change in their pastures, soils, livestock, finances, and farm-family quality of life.
The Art and Science of Grazing is an essential guide for ruminant farmers who want to create grazing systems that meet the needs of their livestock, pasture plants, soils, and the larger ecosystem. The book covers all the practical details that are critical for sustained success, including:
Flack includes descriptions of real grazing systems working well on dairy, beef, goat, and sheep farms in different regions of North America. The book covers pasture requirements specific to organic farming but will be of use to both organic and non-organic farms.
Worms Eat My Garbage
By Mary Appelhof
The book that started a backyard worm revolution!
With more than 150,000 copies sold, this is the bestselling and remains the definitive guide to vermicomposting--a process using red worms to recycle human food waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants. Author Mary Appelhof provides complete illustrated instructions on setting up and maintaining small-scale worm composting systems. Internationally recognized as an authority on vermicomposting, Appelhof worked with worms for over three decades. Topics include: bin types, worm species, reproduction, care and feeding of worms, harvesting, and how to make the finished product of potting soil.
By Perrine Hervé-Gruyer and Charles Hervé-Gruyer
The Bec Hellouin model for growing food, sequestering carbon, creating jobs, and increasing biodiversity without using fossil fuels
When Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer set out to create their farm in an historic Normandy village, they had no idea just how much their lives would change. Neither one had ever farmed before. Charles had been circumnavigating the globe by sail, operating a floating school that taught students about ecology and indigenous cultures. Perrine had been an international lawyer in Japan. Each had returned to France to start a new life. Eventually, Perrine joined Charles in Normandy, and Le Ferme du Bec Hellouin was born.
Bec Hellouin has since become a celebrated model of innovative, ecological agriculture in Europe, connected to national and international organizations addressing food security, heralded by celebrity chefs as well as the Slow Food movement, and featured in the inspiring César and COLCOA award-winning documentary film, Demain ("Tomorrow"). Miraculous Abundance is the eloquent tale of the couple’s evolution from creating a farm to sustain their family to delving into an experiment in how to grow the most food possible, in the most ecological way possible, and create a farm model that can carry us into a post-carbon future—when oil is no longer moving goods and services, energy is scarcer, and localization is a must.
Today, the farm produces a variety of vegetables using a mix of permaculture, bio-intensive, four-season, and natural farming techniques--as well as techniques gleaned from native cultures around the world. It has some animals for eggs and milk, horses for farming, a welcome center, a farm store, a permaculture school, a bread oven for artisan breads, greenhouses, a cidery, and a forge. It has also become the site of research focusing on how small organic farms like theirs might confront Europe’s (and the world’s) projected food crisis.
But in this honest and engaging account of the trials and joys of their uncompromising effort, readers meet two people who are farming the future as much as they are farming their land. They envision farms like theirs someday being the hub for a host of other businesses that can drive rural communities—from bread makers and grain millers to animal care givers and other tradespeople.
Market farmers and home gardeners alike will find much in these pages, but so will those who’ve never picked up a hoe. The couple’s account of their quest to design an almost Edenlike farm, hone their practices, and find new ways to feed the world is an inspiring tale. It is also a love letter to a future in which people increasingly live in rural communities that rely on traditional skills, locally created and purveyed goods and services, renewable energy, and greater local governance, but are also connected to the larger world.
Available in: Paperback, eBook
The Bio-Integrated Farm
By Shawn Jadrnicek and Stephanie Jadrnicek
Permaculture designer and farmer Shawn Jadrnicek is a master at engaging the free forces of nature to create sustainable food production systems. He weaves water, wind, sunlight, convection, gravity, and decomposition into his projects, showing us how to create sustenance in our landscapes with little effort or work on our part.
The Bio-Integrated Farm is a must-read, twenty-first-century manual for managing these natural resources and brings system farming and permaculture to a whole new level.
Jadrnicek’s groundbreaking insights into permaculture go beyond the term’s philosophical foundation to create hardworking farm-scale designs. Holding his designs to a higher standard, Jadrnicek’s components serve at least seven functions, while classical permaculture theory only seeks at least two functions. With every additional function that a component performs, the design becomes more advanced and saves even more energy.
A bio-integrated greenhouse, for example, doesn’t just extend the season for growing vegetables; it also serves as a rainwater collector, a pond site, an aquaponics system, and a heat generator. The Bio-Integrated Farm offers in-depth information about designing and building a wide range of bio-integrated projects including:
Jadrnicek focuses on his experience as farm manager at the Clemson University Student Organic Farm and at his residence in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He created permaculture patterns that simplified the operation of the 125-share CSA farm while reducing reliance on outside resources. His landscape requires only the labor of harvesting, and the only outside input he buys is a small amount of chicken feed. Jadrnicek’s prevalent theme is using water to do the work. Although applicable in many climates, his designs are particularly important for areas coping with water scarcity.
If you are interested in spending less time maintaining your farm or homestead, if you want to increase productivity, if you want to decrease your dependency on outside resources, or if you are curious about how to inexpensively extend your growing season, then this book is for you. The process is simple—put nature to work through intelligent design.
The Carbon Farming Solution
By Eric Toensmeier
In this groundbreaking book, author Eric Toensmeier offers a Big Idea: That agriculture, often blamed as a major culprit of our climate crisis, could be harnessed as part of a global solution to avert disaster, heal our planet, and provide real food security.
Toensmeier (Paradise Lot, Perennial Vegetables) argues that “carbon farming” has the potential—when combined with a massive reduction in fossil fuel emissions and in concert with adaptation strategies to our changing environment—to return our atmosphere to the “magic number” of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide.
Carbon farming is a suite of agricultural practices and crops that sequester carbon in the soil and in aboveground biomass, which includes modifications to current cropping systems, the use of perennial crops, new approaches to animal grazing, agroforestry, and more. Toensmeier brings together these powerful strategies in one book including in-depth analysis of the available research and, where research is lacking, a discussion of what we need to understand better and the steps that can get us there. The book includes in-depth information on:
Using The Carbon Farming Solution as a guide, farmers, communities, and governments large and small can successfully launch carbon farming projects with the most appropriate crops and practices to their climate, locale, and socioeconomic needs. Along the way it can help address food security, social and climate injustice, women’s empowerment, environmental degradation, and some of the core problems with the global food system.
Citizens, farmers, and funders will be inspired to use the tools and shovel-ready solutions presented in this important new book to transform degraded lands around the world into productive carbon-storing landscapes.
Available in: Hardcover, eBook
Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century
By Stephen Leslie
With contributions from more than 60 contemporary draft-animal-powered farmers and equipment manufacturers
Now is a time of exciting new developments for live animal power. As the numbers of adherents to this way of life grow, ecologically minded farmers in their fields are developing efficient horse-drawn systems, and equipment manufacturers in small shops all across North America and Europe are coming forth with new innovations in ground-drive technology that have us poised on the cusp of another agricultural revolution—with working horses, mules, donkeys, and oxen at the heart of it.
Stephen Leslie’s first book, The New Horse-Powered Farm, presented an overview of the many facets of running a small, diversified farm with live horse power. Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century is focused entirely on the tools and methods required to successfully manage the horse-powered market garden with draft animal power. However, this is not a step-by-step how-to guide outlining one single system, but rather a manual that presents a range of options and approaches. Leslie examines the function and use of all the implements typically employed on a contemporary draft-animal-powered market garden and illustrates these points with insightful reports from the field, farm profiles, and home-built solutions contributed by over sixty draft animal-powered farmers from across North America and Europe.
Each teamster’s story represents a patch in a quilt that is woven together with a narrative thread to guide the reader through the whole fabric of the growing season, from soil preparation to harvest. The book structure follows the seasonal progression of implements, beginning with several examples of contemporary draft-animal-powered produce farms; next an examination of the versatile utility of forecarts; then taking an in-depth look at fertility management on the farm; moving on through primary and secondary tillage, seeding and transplanting; then on to the multifold options for cultivators, tool carriers, and multipurpose implements, with technical harnessing and hitching details for the best use of the implements. For experienced teamsters and beginning market growers farming with horses, this is an invaluable and one-of-a-kind guide, sure to last forever in the agricultural canon.
Available in: Hardcover
The Backyard Orchardist
By Stella Otto
For novice and experienced fruit gardeners alike, The Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden has been the go-to book for home orchardists for over 2 decades. This expanded and updated edition—organized into 6 easy-to-follow sections—offers even more hands-on horticulture. Award-winning author Stella Otto starts by systematically guiding readers through the all-important first steps of planning and planting the home orchard. Learn to:
Become familiar with the growing requirements of popular temperate zone tree fruit: the pome fruit—apples, pears, Asian pears, quince, and the novelty medlar—and stone fruit—cherries, apricots, plums, their new hybrid pluots and apriums, peaches and nectarines. In-depth chapters on each fruit offer recommendations on:
For urban gardeners in apartments, condos, and small lots, Otto walks you through the essentials of container growing and even how to winterize figs and other potted fruit trees.
Horticultural fundamentals are simplified into practical techniques for ongoing care and maintenance of a thriving orchard. Gain understanding of soil biology and how nutrient availability impacts the tree. Master how to prune with precision, including the when, how, and why of pruning and its importance to tree health and disease prevention. Water with confidence: learn when why, and how much.
The pests and disease sections are extensively illustrated to help with identification. Control solutions, both biological and synthetic have expanded greatly since the original edition, offering the gardener numerous choices based on their individual situation.
Harvest hints, use, and storage recommendations help you enjoy your fruit at its peak flavor or preserve it for the off-season. A seasonal to-do calendar, resource list, additional reading suggestions, glossary, illustrations, charts, and an index put all you need to know at your fingertips.
The Book of Pears
By Joan Morgan
Although apples may have won the battle for modern-day supermarket shelf space, throughout history the pear has usually ranked even higher in the hearts of fruit enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Cherries, plums, peaches, and many other fruits are also wonderful in their season, but the pear at its finest can be so much more exceptional in terms of its luscious texture, richness of taste, and its fragrances reminiscent of rose water, musk, and vanilla.
The Book of Pears is a one-of-a-kind guide to this extraordinary fruit, following its journey through history and around the world, accompanied by beautiful botanical watercolor paintings and period images. Noted pomologist and fruit historian Joan Morgan (The Book of Apples) has researched and crafted the definitive account of the pear’s history and uses, from fresh eating to cooking and baking to making perry, the delicate and sophisticated pear equivalent of cider.
Featuring a directory of 500 varieties of both ancient and modern pears with tasting notes and descriptions for every one, The Book of Pears reveals the secrets of the pear as a status symbol, introduces readers to some of the most celebrated fruit growers in history, and explains how the pear came to be so important as an international commodity. This unique and fascinating book will prove indispensable for historians, horticulturists, and all fruit lovers.
The Forest Garden Greenhouse
By Jerome Osentowski
With a revolutionary new “Climate Battery” design for near-net-zero heating and cooling
By the turn of the nineteenth century, thousands of acres of glass houses surrounded large American cities, becoming a commonplace symbol of the market garden and nursery trades. But the possibilities of the indoor garden to transform our homes and our lives remain largely unrealized.
In this groundbreaking book, Jerome Osentowski, one of North America’s most accomplished permaculture designers, presents a wholly new approach to a very old horticultural subject. In The Forest Garden Greenhouse, he shows how bringing the forest garden indoors is not only possible, but doable on unlikely terrain and in cold climates, using near-net-zero technology. Different from other books on greenhouse design and management, this book advocates for an indoor agriculture using permaculture design concepts—integration, multi-functions, perennials, and polycultures—that take season extension into new and important territory.
Osentowski, director and founder of Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI), farms at 7,200 feet on a steep, rocky hillside in Colorado, incorporating deep, holistic permaculture design with practical common sense. It is at this site, high on a mountaintop, where Osentowski (along with architect and design partner Michael Thompson) has been designing and building revolutionary greenhouses that utilize passive and active solar technology via what they call the “climate battery”—a subterranean air-circulation system that takes the hot, moist, ambient air from the greenhouse during the day, stores it in the soil, and discharges it at night—that can offer tropical and Mediterranean climates at similarly high altitudes and in cold climates (and everywhere else). Osentowski’s greenhouse designs, which can range from the backyard homesteader to commercial greenhouses, are completely ecological and use a simple design that traps hot and cold air and regulates it for best possible use. The book is part case study of the amazing greenhouses at CRMPI and part how-to primer for anyone interested in a more integrated model for growing food and medicine in a greenhouse. With detailed design drawings, photos, and profiles of successful greenhouse projects on all scales, this inspirational manual will considerably change the conversation about greenhouse design.
Two Percent Solutions for the Planet
By Courtney White
Two Percent Solutions for the Planet profiles fifty innovative practices that soak up carbon dioxide in soils, reduce energy use, sustainably intensify food production, and increase water quality. The “two percent” refers to: the amount of new carbon in the soil needed to reap a wide variety of ecological and economic benefits; the percentage of the nation’s population who are farmers and ranchers; and the low financial cost (in terms of GDP) needed to get this work done.
As White explained in Grass, Soil, Hope, a highly efficient carbon cycle captures, stores, releases, and recaptures biochemical energy, mitigating climate change, increasing water storage capacities in soil, and making green plants grow. Best of all, we don’t have to invent anything new—a wide variety of innovative ideas and methods that put carbon back into the soil have been field-tested and proven to be practical and profitable. They’re mostly low-tech, too, relying on natural resources such as sunlight, green plants, animals, compost, beavers, creeks, and more.
In Two Percent Solutions for the Planet, White expands what he calls the “regenerative toolbox,” to include holistic grazing, edible forests, biochar, weed-eating livestock, food co-ops, keyline plowing, restoration agriculture, bioenergy, aquaponics, animal power, Farm Hack, bees, bears, wildlife corridors, rainwater harvesting, native seeds, and various other projects from across the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, and Australia. These short, engaging success stories will help readers connect the dots between diverse, exciting, and pragmatic practices, and inspire them to dig deeper into each individual story and concept, energized by the news that solutions do exist.
The Hop Grower's Handbook
By Laura Ten Eyck and Dietrich Gehring
It’s hard to think about beer these days without thinking about hops.
The runaway craft beer market’s convergence with the ever-expanding local foods movement is helping to spur a local-hops renaissance. The demand from craft brewers for local ingredients to make beer—such as hops and barley—is robust and growing. That’s good news for farmers looking to diversify, but the catch is that hops have not been grown commercially in the Eastern United States for nearly a century.
Today, farmers from Maine to North Carolina are working hard to respond to the craft brewers’ desperate call for locally grown hops. But questions arise: How best to create hop yards—which are virtual forests 18-feet tall, are expensive to build, and the hop bines themselves often take up to three years to reach full production? How to best pick, process, and price them for market? And, how best to manage the fungal diseases and insects that wiped out the hop industry one reference years ago, and which are thriving in the hotter and more humid Eastern United States thanks to climate change? Answers to these questions can be found in The Hop Grower’s Handbook—the only book on the market about raising hops sustainably, on a small scale, for the commercial craft beer market in the Eastern United States.
Written by hop farmers and craft brewery owners Laura Ten Eyck and Dietrich Gehring, The Hop Grower’s Handbook is a beautifully photographed and illustrated book that weaves the story of their Helderberg Hop Farm with the colorful history of New York and New England hop farming, and relays horticultural information about the unusual hop plant and the mysterious resins it produces that give beer a distinctively bitter flavor, including an overview of the numerous native, heirloom, and modern varieties of hops and their purposes. The authors also detail an easy-to-understand explanation of the beer-brewing process, which is critical for hop growers to understand in order be able to provide the high-quality product brewers want to buy. The authors even include a few beer recipes, too.
The book also provides readers with detailed information on:
The overwhelming majority of books and resources devoted to hop production currently available are geared toward the Pacific Northwest’s large-scale commercial growers, who use synthetic chemical pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers and deal with regionally specific climate, soils, weeds, and insect populations. Ten Eyck and Gehring, however, focus on farming hops sustainably. While they relay their experience about growing in a new Northeastern climate subject to the higher temperatures and volatile cycles of drought and deluge brought about by global warming, this book will be an essential resource for home-scale and small-scale commercial hops growers in all regions.
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening
By Peter Burke
The Low-Tech, No-Grow-Lights Approach to Abundant Harvest
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening offers good news: with nothing more than a cupboard and a windowsill, you can grow all the fresh salad greens you need for the winter months (or throughout the entire year) with no lights, no pumps, and no greenhouse.
Longtime gardener Peter Burke was tired of the growing season ending with the first frost, but due to his busy work schedule and family life, didn’t have the time or interest in high-input grow lights or greenhouses. Most techniques for growing what are commonly referred to as “microgreens” left him feeling overwhelmed and uninterested. There had to be a simpler way to grow greens for his family indoors. After some research and diligent experimenting, Burke discovered he was right—there was a way! And it was even easier than he ever could have hoped, and the greens more nutrient packed. He didn’t even need a south-facing window, and he already had most of the needed supplies just sitting in his pantry. The result: healthy, homegrown salad greens at a fraction of the cost of buying them at the market. The secret: start them in the dark.
Growing “Soil Sprouts”—Burke’s own descriptive term for sprouted seeds grown in soil as opposed to in jars—employs a method that encourages a long stem without expansive roots, and provides delicious salad greens in just seven to ten days, way earlier than any other method, with much less work. Indeed, of all the ways to grow immature greens, this is the easiest and most productive technique. Forget about grow lights and heat lamps! This book is a revolutionary and inviting guide for both first-time and experienced gardeners in rural or urban environments. All you need is a windowsill or two. In fact, Burke has grown up to six pounds of greens per day using just the windowsills in his kitchen! Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening offers detailed step-by-step instructions to mastering this method (hint: it’s impossible not to succeed, it’s so easy!), tools and accessories to have on hand, seeds and greens varieties, soil and compost, trays and planters, shelving, harvest and storage, recipes, scaling up to serve local markets, and much more.
The Lean Farm
By Ben Hartman
A practical, systems-based approach for a more sustainable farming operation
To many people today, using the words “factory” and “farm” in the same sentence is nothing short of sacrilege. In many cases, though, the same sound business practices apply whether you are producing cars or carrots. Author Ben Hartman and other young farmers are increasingly finding that incorporating the best new ideas from business into their farming can drastically cut their wastes and increase their profits, making their farms more environmentally and economically sustainable. By explaining the lean system for identifying and eliminating waste and introducing efficiency in every aspect of the farm operation, The Lean Farm makes the case that small-scale farming can be an attractive career option for young people who are interested in growing food for their community. Working smarter, not harder, also prevents the kind of burnout that start-up farmers often encounter in the face of long, hard, backbreaking labor.
Lean principles grew out of the Japanese automotive industry, but they are now being followed on progressive farms around the world. Using examples from his own family’s one-acre community-supported farm in Indiana, Hartman clearly instructs other small farmers in how to incorporate lean practices in each step of their production chain, from starting a farm and harvesting crops to training employees and selling goods. While the intended audience for this book is small-scale farmers who are part of the growing local food movement, Hartman’s prescriptions for high-value, low-cost production apply to farms and businesses of almost any size or scale that hope to harness the power of lean in their production processes.
By Larry Korn
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.
By Robert Kourik
Award-Winner in the "Home & Garden” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards
Understanding Roots uncovers one of the greatest mysteries underground—the secret lives and magical workings of the roots that move and grow invisibly beneath our feet.
Roots, it seems, do more than just keep a plant from falling over: they gather water and nutrients, exude wondrous elixirs to create good soil, make friends with microbes and fungi, communicate with other roots, and adapt themselves to all manner of soils, winds, and climates, nourishing and sustaining our gardens, lawns, and woodlands.
Understanding Roots contains over 115 enchanting and revealing root drawings that most people have never seen, from prairies, grasslands, and deserts, as well as drawings based on excavations of vegetable, fruit, nut, and ornamental tree roots. Every root system presented in this book was drawn by people literally working in the trenches, sketching the roots where they grew.
The text provides a verydetailed review of all aspects of transplanting; describes how roots work their magic to improve soil nutrients; investigates the hidden life of soil microbes and their mysterious relationship to roots; explores the question of whether deep roots really gather more unique nutrients than shallow roots; shares the latest research about the mysteries of mycorrhizal (good fungal) association; shows you exactly where to put your fertilizer, compost, water, and mulch to help plants flourish; tells you why gray water increases crop yields more than fresh water; and, most importantly, reveals the science behind all the above (with citations for each scientific paper).
This book contains at least eighty percent more new information, more results of the latest in-depth and up-to-date explorations, and even more helpful guidelines on roots than the author’s previous book (Roots Demystified: Change Your Garden Habits to Help Roots Thrive). This is not a revised edition—it’s a whole new stand-alone book.
The New Bread Basket
By Amy Halloran
For more than 10,000 years, grains have been the staples of Western civilization. The stored energy of grain allowed our ancestors to shift from nomadic hunting and gathering and build settled communities—even great cities. Though most bread now comes from factory bakeries, the symbolism of wheat and bread—amber waves of grain, the staff of life—still carries great meaning.
Today, bread and beer are once again building community as a new band of farmers, bakers, millers, and maltsters work to reinvent local grain systems. The New Bread Basket tells their stories and reveals the village that stands behind every loaf and every pint.
While eating locally grown crops like heirloom tomatoes has become almost a cliché, grains are late in arriving to local tables, because growing them requires a lot of land and equipment. Milling, malting, and marketing take both tools and cooperation. The New Bread Basket reveals the bones of that cooperation, profiling the seed breeders, agronomists, and grassroots food activists who are collaborating with farmers, millers, bakers, and other local producers.
Take Andrea and Christian Stanley, a couple who taught themselves the craft of malting and opened the first malthouse in New England in one hundred years. Outside Ithaca, New York, bread from a farmer-miller-baker partnership has become an emblem in the battle against shale gas fracking. And in the Pacific Northwest, people are shifting grain markets from commodity exports to regional feed, food, and alcohol production. Such pioneering grain projects give consumers an alternative to industrial bread and beer, and return their production to a scale that respects people, local communities, and the health of the environment.
Many Americans today avoid gluten and carbohydrates. Yet, our shared history with grains—from the village baker to Wonder Bread—suggests that modern changes in farming and processing could be the real reason that grains have become suspect in popular nutrition. The people profiled in The New Bread Basket are returning to traditional methods like long sourdough fermentations that might address the dietary ills attributed to wheat. Their work and lives make our foundational crops visible, and vital, again.
Trees for Gardens, Orchards, and Permaculture
By Martin Crawford
Are you wondering which productive trees to plant in your garden? Or are you planning a forest garden? Perhaps you are planting an orchard but want a greater diversity of useful trees than is typical? Or you’d like to know what unusual fruit trees you can use? The answers to all these questions can be found in master forest gardener Martin Crawford’s new book.
Crawford has researched and experimented with tree crops for twenty-five years and has selected over one hundred of the best trees producing fruits, nuts, edible leaves, and other useful products that can be grown in Europe and North America. Each of the trees or tree groups includes details of:
The appendices make choosing trees for your situation easy, with lists of suitable trees for specific situations, plus flowcharts to guide you. If you want to know about and make use of the large diversity of tree crops that are available in temperate and continental climates, then this book—by an internationally acknowledged expert—is both fascinating and essential reading.
Beyond the War on Invasive Species
By Tao Orion
Invasive species are everywhere, from forests and prairies to mountaintops and river mouths. Their rampant nature and sheer numbers appear to overtake fragile native species and forever change the ecosystems that they depend on. Concerns that invasive species represent significant threats to global biodiversity and ecological integrity permeate conversations from schoolrooms to board rooms, and concerned citizens grapple with how to rapidly and efficiently manage their populations. These worries have culminated in an ongoing “war on invasive species,” where the arsenal is stocked with bulldozers, chainsaws, and herbicides put to the task of their immediate eradication. In Hawaii, mangrove trees (Avicennia spp.) are sprayed with glyphosate and left to decompose on the sandy shorelines where they grow, and in Washington, helicopters apply the herbicide Imazapyr to smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) growing in estuaries. The “war on invasive species” is in full swing, but given the scope of such potentially dangerous and ecologically degrading eradication practices, it is necessary to question the very nature of the battle.
Beyond the War on Invasive Species offers a much-needed alternative perspective on invasive species and the best practices for their management based on a holistic, permaculture-inspired framework. Utilizing the latest research and thinking on the changing nature of ecological systems, Beyond the War on Invasive Species closely examines the factors that are largely missing from the common conceptions of invasive species, including how the colliding effects of climate change, habitat destruction, and changes in land use and management contribute to their proliferation. Beyond the War on Invasive Species demonstrates that there is more to the story of invasive species than is commonly conceived, and offers ways of understanding their presence and ecosystem effects in order to make more ecologically responsible choices in land restoration and biodiversity conservation that address the root of the invasion phenomenon. The choices we make on a daily basis—the ways we procure food, shelter, water, medicine, and transportation—are the major drivers of contemporary changes in ecosystem structure and function; therefore, deep and long-lasting ecological restoration outcomes will come not just from eliminating invasive species, but through conscientious redesign of these production systems.
Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening
By Will Bonsall
"Society does not generally expect its farmers to be visionaries." Perhaps not, but longtime Maine farmer and homesteader Will Bonsall does possess a unique clarity of vision that extends all the way from the finer points of soil fertility and seed saving to exploring how we can transform civilization and make our world a better, more resilient place.
In Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening, Bonsall maintains that to achieve real wealth we first need to understand the economy of the land, to realize that things that might make sense economically don't always make sense ecologically, and vice versa. The marketplace distorts our values, and our modern dependence on petroleum in particular presents a serious barrier to creating a truly sustainable agriculture.
For him the solution is, first and foremost, greater self-reliance, especially in the areas of food and energy. By avoiding any off-farm inputs (fertilizers, minerals, and animal manures), Bonsall has learned how to practice a purely veganic, or plant-based, agriculture—not from a strictly moralistic or philosophical perspective, but because it makes good business sense: spend less instead of making more.
What this means in practical terms is that Bonsall draws upon the fertility of on-farm plant materials: compost, green manures, perennial grasses, and forest products like leaves and ramial wood chips. And he grows and harvests a diversity of crops from both cultivated and perennial plants: vegetables, grains, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and nuts—even uncommon but useful permaculture plants like groundnut (Apios).
In a friendly, almost conversational way, Bonsall imparts a wealth of knowledge drawn from his more than forty years of farming experience.
"My goal," he writes, "is not to feed the world, but to feed myself and let others feed themselves. If we all did that, it might be a good beginning."