Author Gene Logsdon—whom Wendell Berry once called “the most experienced and best observer of agriculture we have”—has a notion: That it is a little easier for gardeners and farmers to accept death than the rest of the populace. Why? Because every day, farmers and gardeners help plants and animals begin life and help plants and animals end life. They are intimately attuned to the food chain. They understand how all living things are seated around a dining table, eating while being eaten. They realize that all of nature is in flux.
Gene Everlasting contains Logsdon’s reflections, by turns both humorous and heart-wrenching, on nature, death, and eternity, all from a contrary farmer’s perspective. He recounts joys and tragedies from his childhood in the 1930s and ‘40s spent on an Ohio farm, through adulthood and child-raising, all the way up to his recent bout with cancer, always with an eye toward the lessons that farming has taught him about life and its mysteries.
Whether his subject is parsnips, pigweed, immortality, irises, green burial, buzzards, or compound interest, Logsdon generously applies as much heart and wit to his words as he does care and expertise to his fields.
Big government, big business, big everything: Kirkpatrick Sale took giantism to task in his 1980 classic, Human Scale, and today takes a new look at how the crises that imperil modern America are the inevitable result of bigness grown out of control—and what can be done about it.
The result is a keenly updated, carefully argued case for bringing human endeavors back to scales we can comprehend and manage—whether in our built environments, our politics, our business endeavors, our energy plans, or our mobility.
Sale walks readers back through history to a time when buildings were scaled to the human figure (as was the Parthenon), democracies were scaled to the societies they served, and enterprise was scaled to communities. Against that backdrop, he dissects the bigger-is-better paradigm that has defined modern times and brought civilization to a crisis point. Says Sale, retreating from our calamity will take rebalancing our relationship to the environment; adopting more human-scale technologies; right-sizing our buildings, communities, and cities; and bringing our critical services—from energy, food, and garbage collection to transportation, health, and education—back to human scale as well.
Like Small is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher, Human Scale has long been a classic of modern decentralist thought and communitarian values—a key tool in the kit of those trying to localize, create meaningful governance in bioregions, or rethink our reverence of and dependence on growth, financially and otherwise.
Rewritten to interpret the past few decades, Human Scale offers compelling new insights on how to turn away from the giantism that has caused escalating ecological distress and inequality, dysfunctional governments, and unending warfare and shines a light on many possible pathways that could allow us to scale down, survive, and thrive.
As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.
In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.
In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.
Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.
The Tao of Vegetable Gardening explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening. In her latest book, groundbreaking garden writer Carol Deppe (The Resilient Gardener, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties) focuses on some of the most popular home garden vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, peas, and leafy greens—and through them illustrates the key principles and practices that gardeners need to know to successfully plant and grow just about any food crop.
Deppe’s work has long been inspired and informed by the philosophy and wisdom of Tao Te Ching, the 2,500-year-old work attributed to Chinese sage Lao Tzu and the most translated book in the world after the Bible. The Tao of Vegetable Gardening is organized into chapters that echo fundamental Taoist concepts: Balance, Flexibility, Honoring the Essential Nature (your own and that of your plants), Effortless Effort, Non-Doing, and even Non-Knowing. Yet the book also offers a wealth of specific and valuable garden advice on topics as diverse as:
• The Eat-All Greens Garden, a labor- and space-efficient way to provide all the greens a family can eat, freeze, and dry—all on a tiny piece of land suitable for small-scale and urban gardeners.
• The growing problem of late blight and the future of heirloom tomatoes—and what gardeners can do to avoid problems, and even create new resistant varieties.
• Establishing a Do-It-Yourself Seed Bank, including information on preparing seeds for long-term storage and how to “dehybridize” hybrids.
• Twenty-four good places to not plant a tree, and thirty-seven good reasons for not planting various vegetables.
Designed for gardeners of all levels, from beginners to experienced growers, The Tao of Vegetable Gardening provides a unique frame of reference: a window to the world of nature, in the garden and in ourselves.
Michael Phillips is a farmer, writer, carpenter, orchard consultant, and speaker who lives with his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Grace, on Heartsong Farm in northern New Hampshire, where they grow apples and a variety of medicinal herbs. Michael is the author of The Apple Grower (Chelsea Green, 2005) and The Holistic Orchard (2011), and teamed up with Nancy to write The Herbalist's Way (2005). His Lost Nation Orchard is part of the Holistic Orchard Network, and Michael also leads the community orchard movement at www.GrowOrganicApples.com