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WATCH: Will Allen’s Presentation from Bioneers, 2007

In this video, Will Allen, author of The War on Bugs, speaks about the history of toxic pesticides and his work to raise awareness about their dangers at Bioneers by the Bay, 2007.

The War on Bugs tells the story of how American farmers in the mid-1900s were convinced that dangerous chemicals were not just good business but, “Necessary, Critical, Essential, Modern, Progressive, Profitable, Economical,  Miraculous, even Heroic—all in capital letters.”

From the Preface:

At farm field days, meetings, potlucks, and Farm Aid concerts, we began recounting how each of us had become convinced that farm chemicals were indispensable. All of us recalled how farmers,  extension agents, schoolteachers, feed store salesmen, and billboard ads claimed that the chemicals were miraculously effective and safe.

As farm kids, we knew that the chemicals were effective. We knew that arsenic, nicotine, and lead killed pests and that the chemical fertilizers produced good yields, even though most of our folks  were small farmers who rarely used them. All of us knew, however, that the claims about safety  were B.S., because we would get our butts whipped if we went near the chemical storehouse. At my grandma’s farm in Hemet, California, she and my aunt repeatedly told us to keep away from the shed with the chemicals. At home, my mom would always warn us: “Remember Bobby Arbuckle? He played with arsenic, and he’s dead.” Then she would follow with, “And don’t forget that boy Danny what’s-his-name, who lived down the road—he got into that Black Leaf 40 tobacco poison
and it burned him like a fire.”

Check out The War on Bugs, which is 25% off until July as part of our Gardening & Agriculture sale.


New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More

Pass the Walnut Syrup?

Everyone knows and loves maple syrup, and in some states (like Chelsea Green’s home state of Vermont), it’s big business. However, it’s a widespread myth that maples are the only trees that can be tapped to produce sap, according to Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest. Sap can also be collected […] Read More

4 Books for Growing Food in Winter

Don’t let cold weather stop you from producing and enjoying your own food. For many, the coming of winter simply means cultivation moves indoors or under cover. Small farmers, homesteaders, home gardeners, and commercial growers can extend the growing season with techniques outlined in these essential books. There’s no need for urbanites and small-space dwellers […] Read More
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