Notable New Books

The best new reads from our favorite publishers.

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5/13/2015

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.

 Buy this book from Chelsea Green: The Tao of Vegetable Gardening


5/13/2015

The Nourishing Homestead tells the story of how we can create truly satisfying, permanent, nourished relationships to the land, nature, and one another.

The Hewitts offer practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food on a small plot of land, and think about your farm, homestead, or home as an ecosystem. Much of what the Hewitts have come to understand and embrace about their lives of deep nourishment is informed by their particular piece of land and local community in northern Vermont, but what they have gleaned is readily transferable to any place—whether you live on 4 acres, 40 acres, or in a 400-square-foot studio apartment.

Ben and Penny (and their two sons) maintain copious gardens, dozens of fruit and nut trees and other perennial plantings, as well as a pick-your-own blueberry patch. In addition to these cultivated food crops, they also forage for wild edibles, process their own meat, make their own butter, and ferment, dry, and can their own vegetables. Their focus is to produce nutrient-dense foods from vibrant, mineralized soils for themselves and their immediate community. They are also committed to sharing the traditional skills that support their family, helping them be self-sufficient and thrive in these uncertain times.

Much of what the Hewitts are attempting on their homestead is to close the gaps that economic separation has created in our health, spirit, and skills. Ben uses the term “practiculture” to describe his family’s work with the land—a term that encompasses the many practical life skills and philosophies they embody to create a thriving homestead, including raw-milk production, soil remediation, wildcrafting, Weston A. Price principles, bionutrient-dense farming, permaculture, agroforestry, traditional Vermont hill farming, and more. The Nourishing Homestead also includes information on deep nutrition, the importance of good fats, and integrating children into the work of a homestead.

The Hewitts’ story is reminiscent of The Good Life, by Helen and Scott Nearing, and is sure to inspire a new generation of homesteaders, or anyone seeking a simpler way of life and a deeper connection to the world.

 Buy this book from Chelsea Green: The Nourishing Homestead



4/28/2015

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the first book on foraging and wild edibles to focus on thirteen weeds found all over the world, each of which represents an essential food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit.

Author Katrina Blair has spent months on end taking walkabouts in the wild, eating nothing but what she forages, and has become a wild-foods advocate, community activist, gardener, and chef, teaching and presenting internationally about foraging and the healthful lifestyle it promotes. Blair’s philosophy is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic. If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our feet, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we could potentially achieve true food security. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds Book Cover

The thirteen global survival plants featured in The Wild Wisdom of Weeds are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed. These special plants help to regenerate the earth while supporting our own survival; they grow everywhere where human civilization exists, from the hottest deserts to the Arctic Circle; they are easily identifiable; they are medicinal with minimal preparation; they are ecological succession plants; and, they are commonly free and accessible to anyone living anywhere in the world.

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is also a book about healing ourselves, both in body and in spirit, in an age when technology, commodity agriculture, and processed foods dictate the terms of our intelligence.

With more than one hundred unique recipes, Blair teaches us how to prepare these wild plants from root to seed in soups, salads, slaws, crackers, pestos, seed breads, and seed butters; cereals, green powders, sauerkrauts, smoothies, and milks; first-aid concoctions such as tinctures, teas, salves, and soothers; self-care/beauty products including shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste (and toothbrush), face masks; and a lot more. Also included is information on juicing, growing your own “wild” microgreens, sprouting, fermenting, making wild green powders, and gleaning weeds from community parks and local lawns as a political stance against rampant pesticide use.

Whether readers are based at home or traveling, this book will empower individuals to maintain a state of optimal health with minimal cost and effort, and offers a tangible way to connect with our sense of place by incorporating wild edibles and medicinal plants into our daily practices.

Buy this book from Chelsea Green: The Wild Wisdom of Weeds



4/28/2015

To many, the practices of forestry and farming are mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are primarily reserved for timber and firewood harvesting.

Farming the Woods introduces a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other non-timber products such as ginseng, mushrooms, and ramps.

In Farming the Woods, authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel demonstrate how forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes, and in shallow soils. Forest farming is becoming an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.Farming the Woods Book Cover

Many already know that daily indulgences we take for granted such as coffee, chocolate, and many tropical fruits, all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America.

Mudge and Gabriel cover in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Farming the Woods includes profiles of forest farmers from around the country who are practicing many of the techniques described in the book.

Farming the Woods is a must-read for farmers and gardeners who have access to an established woodland and are looking for productive ways to manage it, and are interested in incorporating aspects of agroforestry, permaculture, forest gardening, and sustainable woodlot management into the concept of a whole-farm organism.

Buy this book from Chelsea Green: Farming the Woods



4/28/2015
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For almost twenty years, D Acres of New Hampshire has challenged and expanded the common definition of a farm. The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm describes the history of the D Acres project and its evolving principles and practices, which are rooted in the land, its inhabitants, and the joy inherent in collective empowerment.

As an educational center that researches, applies, and teaches skills of sustainable living and small-scale organic farming, D Acres serves more than just a single function to its community. It is a hostel for travelers to northern New England, a training center for everything from metal- and woodworking to cob building and seasonal cooking, a gathering place for music, poetry, joke-telling, and potluck meals, and much more.'The Community-Scale Permculture Farm' Book Cover

While this book provides a wide spectrum of practical information on the physical systems designed into a community-scale homestead, Trought also reviews the economics and organizational particulars that D Acres has experimented with over the years.

The D Acres vision is to usher in a sustainable future by creating a rural community ecology that evolves in perpetuity. From working with oxen to working with a board of directors, no other book contains such a wealth of innovative ideas and ways to make your farm or homestead not only more sustainable, but more inclusive of, and beneficial to, the larger community. 

Readers will find information on such subjects as:

  • Working with pigs to transform forested landscapes into arable land;
  • Designing and building unique, multifunctional farm and community spaces using various techniques and materials;
  • Creating and perpetuating diverse revenue streams to keep your farm organization solvent and resilient;
  • Receiving maximum benefits and yields for the farm without denigrating resources or the regional ecology;
  • Implementing a fair and effective governance structure;
  • Constructing everything from solar dehydrators and cookers to treehouses and ponds; and,
  • Connecting and partnering with the larger community beyond the farm.

Emphasizing collaboration, cooperation, and mutualism, this book promises to inspire a new generation of growers, builders, educators, artists, and dreamers who are seeking new and practical ways to address today’s problems on a community scale.

Buy this book from Chelsea Green: The Community–Scale Permaculture Farm



1/20/2015

An Unlikely Vineyard tells the evolutionary story of Deirdre Heekin’s farm from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment.

Is it possible to capture landscape in a bottle? To express its terroir, its essence of place—geology, geography, climate, and soil—as well as the skill of the winegrower?An Unlikely Vineyard Book Cover

That’s what Heekin and her chef/husband, Caleb Barber, set out to accomplish on their tiny, eight-acre hillside farm and vineyard in Vermont.

But An Unlikely Vineyard involves much more. It also presents, through the example of their farming journey and winegrowing endeavors, an impressive amount of information on how to think about almost every aspect of gardening: from composting to trellising; from cider and perry making to growing old garden roses, keeping bees, and raising livestock; from pruning (or not) to dealing naturally with pests and diseases.

Challenged by cold winters, wet summers, and other factors, Deirdre and Caleb set about to grow not only a vineyard, but an orchard of heirloom apples, pears, and plums, as well as gardens filled with vegetables, herbs, roses, and wildflowers destined for their own table and for the kitchen of their small restaurant. They wanted to create, or rediscover, a sense of place, and to grow food naturally using the philosophy and techniques gleaned from organic gardening, permaculture, and biodynamic farming.

Accompanied throughout by lush photos, this gentle narrative will appeal to anyone who loves food, farms, and living well.

Buy this book from Chelsea Green: An Unlikely Vineyard



8/11/2014

What would it take to grow mushrooms in space? How can mushroom cultivation help us manage, or at least make use of, invasive species such as kudzu and water hyacinth and thereby reduce dependence on herbicides? Is it possible to develop a low-cost and easy-to-implement mushroom-growing kit that would provide high-quality edible protein and bioremediation in the wake of a natural disaster? How can we advance our understanding of morel cultivation so that growers stand a better chance of success?Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation Book Cover

For more than twenty years, mycologist Tradd Cotter has been pondering these questions and conducting trials in search of the answers. In Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, Cotter offers readers an in-depth exploration of best organic mushroom-cultivation practices, shares the results of his groundbreaking research, and offers creative ways to apply cultivation skills—whether the goal is to help a community clean up industrial pollution or simply to settle down at the end of the day with a cold Reishi-infused homebrew ale.

The book guides readers through both indoor and outdoor cultivation. Covered skills include:

  • Integrating wood-chip beds spawned with king stropharia into your garden;

  • Building a “trenched raft” of hardwood logs plugged with shiitake spawn; and,

  • Producing oysters indoors on spent coffee grounds in a 4-by-4-foot space or on pasteurized sawdust in vertical plastic columns.

Geared toward readers who want to grow mushrooms without the use of pesticides, Cotter takes “organic” one step further by introducing an entirely new way of thinking—one that looks at the potential to grow mushrooms on just about anything, just about anywhere, and by anyone.

Buy this book from Chelsea Green: Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation









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