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Chelsea Green Blog

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.


“If we work hard, we sleep well.” Independent Farmstead Q&A (part 2)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food.Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture […] Read More

The Miracle of Farming: Toward a Bio-Abundant Future

Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer’s Le Ferme du Bec Hellouin is a celebrated model of innovative, ecological agriculture in Europe, connected to national and international organizations addressing food security, heralded by celebrity chefs as well as the Slow Food movement, and featured in the inspiring César and COLCOA award-winning documentary film, Demain (Tomorrow).In this excerpt from their […] Read More

Sow Seeds: Stop Walking Around Doing Nothing

“In the last one hundred years, 94 percent of seed varieties available at the turn of the century in America and considered a part of the human commons have been lost.”That’s one of the key takeaways in award-winning author and activist Janisse Ray’s book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. In her book, Ray […] Read More

True or false? Figs contain dead wasps

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are wish-fulfillers … rainforest royalty … more precious than gold. They are the fig trees, and they have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways. Gods, Wasps and Stranglers tells their amazing story.Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles […] Read More

Imagination, Purpose & Flexibility: Creating an Independent Farmstead – Q&A (part 1)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food.Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture […] Read More
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