By Les Leopold
Revised, Updated Edition
Runaway inequality is now America’s most critical economic fact of life. In 1970, the ratio of pay between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker was 45 to 1. Today it is a shocking 829 to one! During that time a new economic philosophy set in that cut taxes, deregulated finance, and trimmed social spending. Those policies set in motion a process that greatly expanded the power of financial interests to accelerate inequality. But how exactly does that happen?
Using easy-to-understand charts and graphs, Runaway Inequality explains the process by which corporation after corporation falls victim to systematic wealth extraction by banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds. It reveals how financial strip-mining puts enormous downward pressure on jobs, wages, benefits, and working conditions, while boosting the incomes of financial elites.
But Runaway Inequality does more than make sense of our economic plight. It also shows why virtually all the key issues that we face—from climate change to the exploding prison population—are intimately connected to rising economic inequality.
Most importantly, Runaway Inequality calls upon us to build a common movement to tackle the sources of increasing income and wealth inequality. As the author makes clear, the problem will not cure itself. It will take enormous energy and dedication to bring economic justice and fairness back to American society.
The book is divided into four parts:
From the book: “There is nothing in the economic universe that will automatically rescue us from runaway inequality. There is no pendulum, no invisible political force that ‘naturally’ will swing back towards economic fairness. Either we wage a large-scale battle for economic, social, and environmental justice, or we will witness the continued deterioration of the world we inhabit. The arc of capitalism does not bend towards justice. We must bend it.”
Available in: Paperback
By Gordon Edgar
One of the oldest, most ubiquitous, and beloved cheeses in the world, the history of cheddar is a fascinating one. Over the years it has been transformed, from a painstakingly handmade wheel to a rindless, mass-produced block, to a liquefied and emulsified plastic mass untouched by human hands. The Henry Fordism of cheddar production in many ways anticipated the advent of industrial agriculture. They don’t call it “American Cheese” for nothing.
Cheddar is one man’s picaresque journey to find out what a familiar food can tell us about ourselves. Cheddar may be appreciated in almost all American homes, but the advocates of the traditional wheel versus the processed slice often have very different ideas about food. Since cheddar—with its diversity of manufacturing processes and tastes—is such a large umbrella, it is the perfect food through which to discuss many big food issues that face our society.
More than that, though, cheddar actually holds a key to understanding not only issues surrounding food politics, but also some of the ways we think of our cultural identity. Cheddar, and its offshoots, has something to tell us about this country: the way people rally to certain cheddars but not others; the way they extol or denounce the way others eat it; the role of the commodification of a once-artisan cheese and the effect that has on rural communities. The fact that cheddar is so common that it is often taken for granted means that examining it can lead us to the discovery of usually unspoken truths.
Author Gordon Edgar (Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge) is well equipped to take readers on a tour through the world of cheddar. For more than fifteen years he has worked as an iconoclastic cheesemonger in San Francisco, but his sharp talent for observation and social critique were honed long before then, in the world of ’zines, punk rock, and progressive politics. His fresh perspectives on such a seemingly common topic are as thought provoking as they are entertaining.
Available in: Hardcover, Paperback
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.
Available in: Hardcover
Systems Thinking For Social Change
By David Peter Stroh
Donors, leaders of nonprofits, and public policy makers usually have the best of intentions to serve society and improve social conditions. But often their solutions fall far short of what they want to accomplish and what is truly needed. Moreover, the answers they propose and fund often produce the opposite of what they want over time. We end up with temporary shelters that increase homelessness, drug busts that increase drug-related crime, or food aid that increases starvation.
How do these unintended consequences come about and how can we avoid them? By applying conventional thinking to complex social problems, we often perpetuate the very problems we try so hard to solve, but it is possible to think differently, and get different results.
Systems Thinking for Social Change enables readers to contribute more effectively to society by helping them understand what systems thinking is and why it is so important in their work. It also gives concrete guidance on how to incorporate systems thinking in problem solving, decision making, and strategic planning without becoming a technical expert.
Systems thinking leader David Stroh walks readers through techniques he has used to help people improve their efforts to end homelessness, improve public health, strengthen education, design a system for early childhood development, protect child welfare, develop rural economies, facilitate the reentry of formerly incarcerated people into society, resolve identity-based conflicts, and more.
The result is a highly readable, effective guide to understanding systems and using that knowledge to get the results you want.
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.
The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America
By Jonathan Tasini
Meet the essential Bernie Sanders—an authentic and uncompromising champion of the people.
Independent United States Senator Bernie Sanders—with a thirty-five-year career in public service, first as Burlington, Vermont’s mayor, then as Vermont’s sole representative to Congress, and currently as a United States senator—is now campaigning to become president of the United States. His goal is to build a movement to take back our country from the rich and powerful, and return it to its rightful owners—we, the American people.
Sanders’ common sense, populist message is resonating with Democrats, Republicans, independents, as well as ordinary working- and middle-class Americans from all walks of life, including millennials, seniors, veterans, immigrants, environmentalists, union workers, and more.
In this short, accessible book, author Jonathan Tasini draws heavily from Sanders’ ample public record of speeches, statements, and interviews, and couples his working-class spirit with specific legislation he has championed on a number of core proposals that comprise a broader people’s agenda for America, including:
The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America is a must-read for anyone who shares a vision for a forward-looking, sustainable, and more just United States of America, and is eager to change the course of history.
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 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.
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.
The Art of Natural Cheesemaking
By David Asher
Including more than 35 step-by-step recipes from the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking
Most DIY cheesemaking books are hard to follow, complicated, and confusing, and call for the use of packaged freeze-dried cultures, chemical additives, and expensive cheesemaking equipment. For though bread baking has its sourdough, brewing its lambic ales, and pickling its wild fermentation, standard Western cheesemaking practice today is decidedly unnatural. In The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, David Asher practices and preaches a traditional, but increasingly countercultural, way of making cheese—one that is natural and intuitive, grounded in ecological principles and biological science.
This book encourages home and small-scale commercial cheesemakers to take a different approach by showing them:
Introductory chapters explore and explain the basic elements of cheese: milk, cultures, rennet, salt, tools, and the cheese cave. The fourteen chapters that follow each examine a particular class of cheese, from kefir and paneer to washed-rind and alpine styles, offering specific recipes and handling advice. The techniques presented are direct and thorough, fully illustrated with hand-drawn diagrams and triptych photos that show the transformation of cheeses in a comparative and dynamic fashion.
The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is the first cheesemaking book to take a political stance against Big Dairy and to criticize both standard industrial and artisanal cheesemaking practices. It promotes the use of ethical animal rennet and protests the use of laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures. It also explores how GMO technology is creeping into our cheese and the steps we can take to stop it.
This book sounds a clarion call to cheesemakers to adopt more natural, sustainable practices. It may well change the way we look at cheese, and how we make it ourselves.
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.
Getting Started in Your Own Wood
By Julian Evans and Will Rolls
Owning a small wood or being able to help look after one well has become an increasingly popular subject. Getting Started in Your Own Wood has all you need to know about the basics. It is written by experts committed to the care and stewardship of woodland resources and provides practical advice and guidance for those coming to woodland management for the first time.
Getting Started in Your Own Wood is an expanded and updated edition of Julian Evans’s hugely successful Badgers, Beeches and Blisters, first published in the UK in 2006 and reprinted four times. Every chapter has been revised, and two new chapters were added by Will Rolls on firewood and tree pests and diseases. This revised and expanded edition includes:
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.
The Local Economy Solution
By Michael Shuman
Reinventing economic development as if small business mattered
In cities and towns across the nation, economic development is at a crossroads. A growing body of evidence has proven that its current cornerstone—incentives to attract and retain large, globally mobile businesses—is a dead end. Even those programs that focus on local business, through buy-local initiatives, for example, depend on ongoing support from government or philanthropy. The entire practice of economic development has become ineffective and unaffordable and is in need of a makeover.
The Local Economy Solution suggests an alternative approach in which states and cities nurture a new generation of special kinds of businesses that help local businesses grow. These cutting-edge companies, which Shuman calls “pollinator businesses,” are creating jobs and the conditions for future economic growth, and doing so in self-financing ways.
Pollinator businesses are especially important to communities that are struggling to lift themselves up in a period of economic austerity, when municipal budgets are being slashed. They also promote locally owned businesses that increase local self-reliance and evince high labor and environmental standards.
The book includes nearly two dozen case studies of successful pollinator businesses that are creatively facilitating business and neighborhood improvements, entrepreneurship, local purchasing, local investing, and profitable business partnerships. Examples include Main Street Genome (which provides invaluable data to improve local business performance), Supportland (which is developing a powerful loyalty card for local businesses), and Fledge (a business accelerator that finances itself through royalty payments). It also shows how the right kinds of public policy can encourage the spread of pollinator businesses at virtually no cost.
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."