Community-Scale Composting Systems
A Comprehensive Practical Guide for Closing the Food System Loop and Solving Our Waste Crisis
Composting at scales large enough to capture and recycle the organic wastes of a given community, whether a school, neighborhood, or even a small city, is coming of age, propelled by a growing awareness not only of our food waste crisis, but also the need to restore natural fertility in our soils. In-depth yet accessible, Community-Scale Composting Systems is a technical resource for farmers, designers, service providers, organics recycling entrepreneurs, and advocates of all types, with a focus on developing the next generation of organics recycling infrastructure that can enable communities to close the food-soil loop in their local food systems.
The main scope of the book is dedicated to compost system options and design, from basic sizing and layout to advanced techniques such as aerated static pile composting. Management techniques and operational considerations are also covered, including testing, feedstock characteristics, compost recipe development, and system-specific best management practices.
Though focused on recycling systems that include food scraps—the fastest growing sector of community-scale composting—the book is informed by and relevant to other composting sectors and will be a vital resource for anyone invested in diverting organic materials away from landfilling and incineration. Topics covered include:
- Community-scale models
- Estimating organics from individual generators and whole communities
- Food scrap collection
- Compost system sizing
- Aerated static pile (ASP) systems design
- In-vessel systems selection
- Integrating animals with composting
- Compatibility with compost heat recovery, vermicomposting, and other specialized methodologies
- Composting best management practices
- Nuisance management
- Mitigating persistent herbicides
- End uses, marketing, and sales
Whether you’re an engineer, community organizer, permaculturalist, public sector waste manager, farmer, or just a dirt lover, Community-Scale Composting Systems is the definitive manual on composting, written at a crucial time when communities are just starting to see what the composting movement will ultimately offer our food systems, local and regional economies, and planet.
Farming for the Long Haul
Resilience and the Lost Art of Agricultural Inventiveness
It’s all but certain that the next fifty years will bring enormous, not to say cataclysmic, disruptions to our present way of life. World oil reserves will be exhausted within that time frame, as will the lithium that powers today’s most sophisticated batteries, suggesting that transportation is equally imperiled. And there’s another, even more dire limitation that is looming: at current rates of erosion, the world’s topsoil will be gone in sixty years. Fresh water sources are in jeopardy, too. In short, the large-scale agricultural and food delivery system as we know it has at most a few decades before it exhausts itself and the planet with it.
Farming for the Long Haul is about building a viable small farm economy that can withstand the economic, political, and climatic shock waves that the twenty-first century portends. It draws on the innovative work of contemporary farmers, but more than that, it shares the experiences of farming societies around the world that have maintained resilient agricultural systems over centuries of often-turbulent change. Indigenous agriculturalists, peasants, and traditional farmers have all created broad strategies for survival through good times and bad, and many of them prospered. They also developed particular techniques for managing soil, water, and other resources sustainably. Some of these techniques have been taken up by organic agriculture and permaculture, but many more of them are virtually unknown, even among alternative farmers. This book lays out some of these strategies and presents techniques and tools that might prove most useful to farmers today and in the uncertain future.
The Creative Kitchen
Seasonal Plant Based Recipes for Meals, Drinks, Crafts, Body & Home Care
Award-winning author of The No Dig Organic Home and Garden Stephanie Hafferty offers a pathway to low cost, zero waste and as plastic free living as possible. She shows you the advantages and pleasures of cooking seasonally and making organic products for you and your family’s health and happiness. Learn how to be resourceful, creative and inspired by what is seasonal and close to hand for a 100% organic home.
Make your own:
* Main meals, sides and deserts
* Store cupboard ingredients like flavoured salts, vinegars, herb mixes, essences
* Drinks (including cordials, teas and liqueurs)
* Soaps, balms, cleansers, flower papers, and much more!
The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume IV
In the fourth volume of this loved publication, the Greenhorns’ diverse collaborators have created yet another delightful miscellany of writings and artwork–centered, this time round, on diversification, in all its forms. The New Farmer’s Almanac, Vol IV features essays and poems from dozens of farmers, ranchers, ecologists, educators, food bank managers, grocers, gardeners, and other actors and advocates bound by their care for the land, the food system, and the preservation of the natural world.
There are folk stories, reports on the racial distribution of farmland, recipes for hickory nut milk and healing and foraged tea. Toolboxes for seed-saving, indigenous land repatriation, and creating liberated space. Advice from old-timers and insights from the new. Meditations on failure, loved crops, and the wisdom of farm dogs. Here are stories about leaving, and of returning home to work the land; essays on the geography of self-discovery; reflections on trauma, both climatic and personal; and some practical guidance for farmers. Add to this hundreds of unique images, from lost-and-found postcards to inked watersheds to sketches of refugee gardens.
Created by the Greenhorns, The New Farmer’s Almanac is a place for public thinking and proactive literary inquiry into the future we share on the land and at the table. Shifting practices is a team sport, and with its original artwork, historic photographs, moon charts, essays, reading lists, proposals, and old-time manifestos, this is just the compendium to inspire your own part in the mix.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2, 2nd Edition
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2 is a how-to guide enabling you to “plant the rain” by creating water-harvesting “earthworks” or “rain gardens.” Earthworks are simple, inexpensive strategies and landforms that passively harvest multiple sources of free on-site water including rainfall, stormwater runoff, air conditioning condensate, and greywater within “living tanks” of soil and vegetation. The plants then pump the water back out in the form of beauty, food, shelter, wildlife habitat, timber and forage, while controlling erosion, reducing down-stream flooding, dropping utility costs, increasing soil fertility, and improving water and air quality.
This revised and expanded full-color second edition builds on the information in Volume 1 by showing you how to turn your yard, school, business, park, and neighborhood into lively, regenerative producers of resources. Conditions at home will improve as you simultaneously enrich the ecosystem and inspire the surrounding community.
Learn to select, place, size, construct, and plant your chosen earthworks. All is made easier and more effective by the illustrations of natural patterns of water and sediment flow with which you can collaborate or mimic. Detailed step-by-step instructions with over 460 images show you how to do it, and plentiful stories of success motivate you so you will do it!
The Worm Farmer’s Handbook
Mid- to Large-Scale Vermicomposting for Farms, Businesses, Municipalities, Schools, and Institutions
Techniques and systems for processing food scraps, manure, yard debris, paper, and more
Turning waste into wealth sounds too good to be true, but many worm farmers are finding that vermicomposting is a reliable way to do just that. Vermicast—a biologically active, nutrient-rich mix of earthworm castings and decomposed organic matter—sells for $400 or more per cubic yard. Compare that to regular compost, sold at about $30 a cubic yard, and you’ll see why vermicomposting has taken root in most countries and on every continent but Antarctica.
Vermicomposting is also one of the best sustainable solutions for organic waste management. Vermicomposting manure and crop wastes on farms improves crop yields while reducing demand for off-farm inputs. Vermicast has higher nutrient levels and lower soluble salt content than regular compost, and it improves soil aeration, porosity, and water retention. Plus, vermicast suppresses plant diseases and insect attacks. Municipalities, businesses, community gardens, schools, and universities can set up vermicomposting operations to process food residuals and other waste materials.
The Worm Farmer’s Handbook details the ins and outs of vermicomposting for mid- to large-scale operations, including how to recycle organic materials ranging from food wastes and yard trimmings to manure and shredded office paper. Vermicomposting expert Rhonda Sherman shares what she has learned over twenty-five years working with commercial worm growers and researchers around the world. Her profiles of successful worm growers across the United States and from New Zealand to the Middle East and Europe describe their proven methods and systems.
This book digs into all the details, including:
- Choosing the right production system
- Regulatory issues and developing a business and marketing plan
- Finding and managing feedstocks
- Pre-composting: why and how to do it
- Monitoring an active worm bed
- Harvesting, screening, testing, packaging, and storing vermicast
- Markets for earthworms and vermicast
- Food security: how vermicast benefits soils and plants
- Keys to success: avoiding common pitfalls
From livestock farms and restaurants to colleges, military bases, and prisons, Sherman details why and how commercial-scale vermicomposting is a fast-growing, sustainable solution for organic waste management. The Worm Farmer’s Handbook is the first and only authoritative how-to guide that goes beyond small-scale operations and demystifies the science and logistics of the fascinating process that is vermicomposting.
Farming While Black
Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people—a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.
Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. Throughout the chapters Penniman uplifts the wisdom of the African diasporic farmers and activists whose work informs the techniques described—from whole farm planning, soil fertility, seed selection, and agroecology, to using whole foods in culturally appropriate recipes, sharing stories of ancestors, and tools for healing from the trauma associated with slavery and economic exploitation on the land. Woven throughout the book is the story of Soul Fire Farm, a national leader in the food justice movement.
The technical information is designed for farmers and gardeners with beginning to intermediate experience. For those with more experience, the book provides a fresh lens on practices that may have been taken for granted as ahistorical or strictly European. Black ancestors and contemporaries have always been leaders—and continue to lead—in the sustainable agriculture and food justice movements. It is time for all of us to listen.
Dirt to Soil
One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture
Gabe Brown didn’t set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown—in an effort to simply survive—began experimenting with new practices he’d learned about from reading and talking with innovative researchers and ranchers. As he and his family struggled to keep the farm viable, they found themselves on an amazing journey into a new type of farming: regenerative agriculture.
Brown dropped the use of most of the herbicides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizers that are a standard part of conventional agriculture. He switched to no-till planting, started planting diverse cover crops mixes, and changed his grazing practices. In so doing Brown transformed a degraded farm ecosystem into one full of life—starting with the soil and working his way up, one plant and one animal at a time.
In Dirt to Soil Gabe Brown tells the story of that amazing journey and offers a wealth of innovative solutions to our most pressing and complex contemporary agricultural challenge—restoring the soil. The Brown’s Ranch model, developed over twenty years of experimentation and refinement, focuses on regenerating resources by continuously enhancing the living biology in the soil. Using regenerative agricultural principles, Brown’s Ranch has grown several inches of new topsoil in only twenty years! The 5,000-acre ranch profitably produces a wide variety of cash crops and cover crops as well as grass-finished beef and lamb, pastured laying hens, broilers, and pastured pork, all marketed directly to consumers.
The key is how we think, Brown says. In the industrial agricultural model, all thoughts are focused on killing things. But that mindset was also killing diversity, soil, and profit, Brown realized. Now he channels his creative thinking toward how he can get more life on the land—more plants, animals, and beneficial insects. “The greatest roadblock to solving a problem,” Brown says, “is the human mind.”
The New Organic Grower, 3rd Edition
A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener, 30th Anniversary Edition
The Book that Started the Organic Farming Revolution
Since its original publication in 1989, The New Organic Grower has been one of the most important farming books available, with pioneer Eliot Coleman leading the charge in the organic movement in the United States. Now fully illustrated and updated, this 30th Anniversary Edition is a must-have for any agricultural library.
Eliot Coleman’s books and innovative methods have helped innumerable organic farmers build successful farms in deep accordance with nature. The wisdom in this seminal book holds true even as the modern agricultural canon has grown—in large part due to Coleman’s influence as a wise elder with decades of experience. New information has been included in this edition to showcase the new tools and techniques that Eliot has been developing over the last thirty-five years.
Inspired by the European intensive growers, The New Organic Grower, 30th Anniversary Edition, offers a very approachable and productive form of farming that has proven to work well for the earth and its stewards for centuries. Gardeners working on 2.5 acres or less will find this book especially useful, as it offers proof that small-scale market growers and serious home gardeners can live good lives close to the land and make a profit at the same time. The New Organic Grower is ideal for young farmers just getting started, or gardeners seeking to expand into a more productive enterprise.
New material in this edition includes:
- Beautiful color photographs throughout, taken by master gardener and author Barbara Damrosch (Eliot’s wife and co-farmer)
- Updated information throughout on how Eliot’s practices have changed through his experiments over the years
- A new section from Damrosch about incorporating flowers on the small farm
- More information on new tools Eliot has invented that don’t appear in any of his other books
Call of the Reed Warbler
A New Agriculture, A New Earth
“Charles Massy has written a definitive masterpiece that takes its place along with the writings of Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, Masanobu Fukuoka, Humberto Maturana, and Michael Pollan. No work has more brilliantly defined regenerative agriculture and the breadth of its restorative impact upon human health, biodiversity, climate, and ecological intelligence.” –Paul Hawken
In Call of the Reed Warbler, Charles Massy explores regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health.
It is the story of how a grassroots revolution—a true underground insurgency—can save the planet, help reduce and reverse climate change, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food.
Using his personal experience as a touchstone—from an unknowing, chemical-using farmer with dead soils to a radical ecologist farmer carefully regenerating a 2000-hectare property to a state of natural health—Massy tells the real story behind industrial agriculture and the global profit-obsessed corporations driving it. With evocative stories, he shows how other innovative and courageous farmers are finding a new way.
At stake is not only a revolution in human health and in our communities, but the very survival of the planet. For farmers, backyard gardeners, food buyers, health workers, policy makers, and public leaders alike, Call of the Reed Warbler offers a tangible path forward and a powerful and moving paean of hope.
It’s not too late to regenerate the earth. Call of the Reed Warbler shows the way forward for the future of our food supply, our planet, and our health.
Creating a Family Business
From Contemplation to Maturity
This book is a “must have” for those who want to build their own business and stop working for someone else.
The author, Allan Nation, was the founder and editor of The Stockman Grass Farmer from 1977 until his untimely death in 2016. Among his legacy of journals and notebooks, he left chapters for a book on business. With the help of his partners, Sonny and Glinda Davenport, Allan’s spouse, Carolyn, brought the manuscript to completion.
Although there are references to the business of grass farming and ranching, his intention was that these principles apply to anyone who has their own business. Nation gives an insider’s story of The Stockman Grass Farmer–the lessons he learned from the euphoric acquisition of a farm magazine, its near bankruptcy, and ultimate success–so that others might avoid his mistakes and follow a clearer path to profits. “This is the kind of book I wish I’d had when I started out,” he explains.
Chapters cover the following: How to turn your dream into reality; Figuring out where you are and where you’re going; Making a business plan; The three-legged stool of production, finance and marketing; Selecting a product and setting a price; The importance of due diligence; Working with your spouse and children; Bringing in employees and partners; What to do when disaster strikes; Enjoying the fruits of your labor.
The Community Food Forest Handbook
How to Plan, Organize, and Nurture Edible Gathering Places
Collaboration and leadership strategies for long-term success
Fueled by the popularity of permaculture and agroecology, community food forests are capturing the imaginations of people in neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the United States. Along with community gardens and farmers markets, community food forests are an avenue toward creating access to nutritious food and promoting environmental sustainability where we live. Interest in installing them in public spaces is on the rise. People are the most vital component of community food forests, but while we know more than ever about how to design food forests, the ways in which to best organize and lead groups of people involved with these projects has received relatively little attention.
In The Community Food Forest Handbook, Catherine Bukowski and John Munsell dive into the civic aspects of community food forests, drawing on observations, group meetings, and interviews at over 20 projects across the country and their own experience creating and managing a food forest. They combine the stories and strategies gathered during their research with concepts of community development and project management to outline steps for creating lasting public food forests that positively impact communities.
Rather than rehash food forest design, which classic books such as Forest Gardening and Edible Forest Gardens address in great detail, The Community Food Forest Handbook uses systems thinking and draws on social change theory to focus on how to work with diverse groups of people when conceiving of, designing, and implementing a community food forest. To find practical ground, the authors use management phases to highlight the ebb and flow of community capitals from a project’s inception to its completion. They also explore examples of positive feedbacks that are often unexpected but offer avenues for enhancing the success of a community food forest.
The Community Food Forest Handbook provides readers with helpful ideas for building and sustaining momentum, working with diverse public and private stakeholders, integrating assorted civic interests and visions within one project, creating safe and attractive sites, navigating community policies, positively affecting public perception, and managing site evolution and adaptation. Its concepts and examples showcase the complexities of community food forests, highlighting the human resilience of those who learn and experience what is possible when they collaborate on a shared vision for their community.
A Guide to Managing Grazing Animals, Forage Crops, and Trees in a Temperate Farm Ecosystem
A system for regenerating land, storing carbon, and creating climate resilience
The concept of silvopasture challenges our notions of both modern agriculture and land use. For centuries, European settlers of North America have engaged in practices that separate the field from the forest, and even the food from the animal. Silvopasture systems integrate trees, animals, and forages in a whole-system approach that offers a number of benefits to the farmer and the environment. Such a system not only offers the promise of ecological regeneration of the land, but also an economical livelihood and even the ability to farm extensively while buffering the effects of a changing climate: increased rainfall, longer droughts, and more intense storm events.
Silvopasture, however, involves more than just allowing animals into the woodlot. It is intentional, steeped in careful observation skills and flexible to the dynamics of such a complex ecology. It requires a farmer who understands grassland ecology, forestry, and animal husbandry. The farmer needn’t be an expert in all of these disciplines, but familiar enough with them to make decisions on a wide variety of time scales. A silvopasture system will inevitably look different from year to year, and careful design coupled with creativity and visioning for the future are all part of the equation.
In this book, farmer Steve Gabriel offers examples of diverse current systems that include:
- A black locust plantation for fence posts coupled with summer grazing pastures for cattle in central New York;
- Oxen and pigs used to clear forested land in New Hampshire to create space for new market gardens and orchards;
- Turkeys used for controlling pests and fertilization on a cider orchard and asparagus farm in New York; and
- Sheep that graze the understory of hybrid chestnut and hickory trees at a nut nursery in Minnesota.
All of these examples share common goals, components, and philosophies. The systems may take several years to establish, but the long-term benefits include healthier animals and soils, greater yields, and the capacity to sequester atmospheric carbon better than forests or grasslands alone.
For all these reasons and more, Silvopasture offers farmers an innovative and ecological alternative to conventional grazing practice.
Letter to a Young Farmer
How to Live Richly without Wealth on the New Garden Farm
For more than four decades, the self-described “contrary farmer” and writer Gene Logsdon has commented on the state of American agriculture. In Letter to a Young Farmer, his final book of essays, Logsdon addresses the next generation—young people who are moving back to the land to enjoy a better way of life as small-scale “garden farmers.” It’s a lifestyle that isn’t defined by accumulating wealth or by the “get big or get out” agribusiness mindset. Instead, it’s one that recognizes the beauty of nature, cherishes the land, respects our fellow creatures, and values rural traditions. It’s one that also looks forward and embraces “right technologies,” including new and innovative ways of working smarter, not harder, and avoiding premature burnout.
Completed only a few weeks before the author’s death, Letter to a Young Farmer is a remarkable testament to the life and wisdom of one of the greatest rural philosophers and writers of our time. Gene’s earthy wit and sometimes irreverent humor combines with his valuable perspectives on many wide-ranging subjects—everything from how to show a ram who’s boss to enjoying the almost churchlike calmness of a well-built livestock barn.
Reading this book is like sitting down on the porch with a neighbor who has learned the ways of farming through years of long observation and practice. Someone, in short, who has “seen it all” and has much to say, and much to teach us, if we only take the time to listen and learn. And Gene Logsdon was the best kind of teacher: equal parts storyteller, idealist, and rabble-rouser. His vision of a nation filled with garden farmers, based in cities, towns, and countrysides, will resonate with many people, both young and old, who long to create a more sustainable, meaningful life for themselves and a better world for all of us.
The Suburban Micro-Farm
Modern Solutions for Busy People
Reduce your lawn and your grocery budget. Take gardening to the next level!
Would you like to grow healthy food for your table? Do you want to learn the secrets of farming even though you live in a neighborhood? Author Amy Stross talks straight about why the suburbs might be the ideal place for a small farm.
In these pages you’ll learn:
- How to make your landscape as productive as it is beautiful
- Why the suburbs are primed with food-growing potential
- How to choose the best crops for success
- Why you don’t need the perfect yard to have a micro-farm
- How to use easy permaculture techniques for abundant harvests
If you’re ready to create a beautiful, edible yard, this book is for you.
The Suburban Micro-Farm will show you how to grow your own fruits, herbs, and vegetables even on a limited schedule. From seed to harvest, this book will keep you on track so you feel a sense of accomplishment for your efforts.
You’ll learn gardening tricks that are essential to success, like how to deal with a ‘brown thumb’, how to develop and nurture healthy soil, and how to manage garden pests.
Although this book has everything a new gardener needs to get started, experienced gardeners will not be disappointed. With helpful tips throughout, you will love the in-depth chapters about permaculture and making money on the micro-farm.
The Ecology, Economy, and Practice of a Family Farm
“Instead of taking us through his work, season by season, crop by crop–the narrative approach–Madison explores his farm and its methods analytically, from many overlapping angles. The result is profoundly interesting.” from the New York Review of Books
As the average age of America’s farmers continues to rise, we face serious questions about what farming will look like in the near future, and who will be growing our food. Many younger people are interested in going into agriculture, especially organic farming, but cannot find affordable land, or lack the conceptual framework and practical information they need to succeed in a job that can be both difficult and deeply fulfilling.
In Fruitful Labor, Mike Madison meticulously describes the ecology of his own small family farm in the Sacramento Valley of California. He covers issues of crop ecology such as soil fertility, irrigation needs, and species interactions, as well as the broader agroecological issues of the social, economic, regulatory, and technological environments in which the farm operates. The final section includes an extensive analysis of sustainability on every level.
Pithy, readable, and highly relevant, this book covers both the ecology and the economy of a truly sustainable agriculture. Although Madison’s farm is unique, the broad lessons he has gleaned from his more than three decades as an organic farmer will resonate strongly with the new generation of farmers who work the land, wherever they might live.
*This book is part of Chelsea Green Publishing’s NEW FARMER LIBRARY series, where we collect innovative ideas, hard-earned wisdom, and practical advice from pioneers of the ecological farming movement—for the next generation. The series is a collection of proven techniques and philosophies from experienced voices committed to deep organic, small-scale, regenerative farming. Each book in the series offers the new farmer essential tips, inspiration, and first-hand knowledge of what it takes to grow food close to the land.