Books: Gardening, Permaculture, Ferment, and Chickens

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner
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Winter is a time for slowing down, hopefully, and taking time to learn new things. As much as I learn, there always seems to be some new ideas just around the corner. I produced two videos to help people be more productive in their gardens. Now, I’d like to introduce you to some books my friends have written recently. They should be helpful in your search for knowledge and understanding of gardening, permaculture, ferment, and chickens.

Sustainable Market Farming is so new that it isn’t even out yet. The release date by New Society Publishers is February 1, 2013. I have been looking forward to this book all year and was fortunate to have the privilege of reading an advance copy. Author Pam Dawling is the garden manager at Twin Oaks, a community of about 100 people here in Virginia. She shows you how she plans the 3½ acre garden, manages the crew, coordinates with the kitchen, and generally, what it takes to feed 100. If you have enjoyed my garden-planning ideas and would like to get another take on it all, you will like Pam’s book. She has suggestions for planting and harvesting that are helpful whether you are growing for your own kitchen or for your market customers. There are excellent chapters on crops, including peanuts, potatoes, onions and okra — crops you generally don’t hear a lot about. The last two chapters are about saving seeds, a topic of increasing importance to gardeners everywhere. Find out more about Pam, her book and her blog at You might want to catch her at one of the conferences she will be speaking at this winter.

The Permaculture Handbook by Peter Bane, editor of Permaculture Activist magazine, was published by New Society in June, 2012. It is nice to have a permaculture book written in the United States showing case studies of various farms and projects. Besides permaculture theory, this book gives practical information and shows it being put to use by Peter and his partner on their .7-acre property in Indiana. Peter discusses coppicing — allowing multiple trunks to grow back for future harvests — a subject I can never find enough information on. I was also particularly interested in his chapter on Diet and Food. Learn more about Peter Bane, his book and where you can find him at

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz was released by Chelsea Green Publishing in May, 2012. If you are a beginner to fermentation, this book might be too much for you. If what you want is some recipes to get started, read Wild Fermentation first, also by Sandor. If you have already played around with fermentation and really enjoy learning about the culture of food beyond the ferment, you will like this book. To Sandor Katz, food is a celebration. You will learn the deeper stories behind the food. Learn more about Sandor Katz, his books and where you might find him at

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery, also a Chelsea Green book, was released in 2011. This book is much more than a how-to-raise-chickens book. A particular interest of Harvey’s (and mine) is Feeding the Flock From Home Resources, which is also a chapter title. Harvey explores raising worms and black soldier fly grubs. He grows cover crops to benefit his garden and his birds. As much as he can, Harvey integrates his chickens with his garden and is always experimenting and tweaking his system. Being in Virginia, his climate is the same as mine. Find out more about Harvey Ussery, his book and his homestead at

These books make for intense reading. Be ready to delve headlong into the subjects. It is always a good idea to browse a book at the bookstore, library or at a conference before you buy it, to make sure it will be useful to you no matter what the reviews say — including mine. If your library doesn’t have a book, it can surely get it either through purchase or interlibrary loan. Be assured that these authors are passionate about what they do and have written these books because they are just as passionate about sharing what they know with others.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday. We all need to slow the pace and spend time with family and friends as we celebrate the season, close out one year and enter the next. That’s what I’m going to be doing. My next blog post won’t appear until January 8. See you in 2013!

Learn more about Cindy Conner and what she’s up to at