Chelsea Green Publishing

A Sanctuary of Trees

Pages:248 pages
Book Art:8 pages of color illustrations
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584012
Pub. Date April 10, 2012

A Sanctuary of Trees

Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
April 10, 2012

$19.95

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

"Logsdon peels away the storied layers of our forests and beckons us to rekindle our connections with our most constant companions -- trees. This book belongs as much in the hands of educators as it does on every homesteader's handmade bookshelf. Seldom are reminiscences so forward-looking ... but that is ultimately Logsdon's hallmark as an author."--Philip Ackerman-Leist, professor, Green Mountain College, and author of Up Tunket Road

"I am more enamored with Gene Logsdon than ever after reading A Sanctuary of Trees. Without melodrama, angst, or anything resembling shock value, this lush autobiography details Mr. Logsdon's relationship with -- of all things -- trees! Trees. How sane and civilized it is. I learned so much from this grounded and completely wonderful book."--Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land

"A Sanctuary of Trees is a beguiling, companionable read, full of sharp-eyed wonder, genuine humility, and a thousand nuts of useful wisdom: when and how to build a plank road; how to not get killed felling an old tree; how to get lost, and found; and -- if you read his book as Logsdon walks his woods -- how to live a long, alert, insatiably engaged life. This one's a keeper."--David Dobbs, author, Reef Madness, and coauthor, The Northern Forest

"Back in 1929 J. Russell Smith published his classic Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. At the time, and mostly since, hardly anyone seemed interested in reading about, let alone doing, farming that includes trees as part of an appropriate, resilient agriculture and even suggesting that such agriculture is a love of country. I didn't expect to ever see a book like Smith's again, yet now we have Gene Logsdon's A Sanctuary of Trees, a renewal of all those classic ideas cast in the context of today's, and hopefully, tomorrow's world."--Frederick Kirschenmann, author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher

"Gene Logsdon does it again! This time he is out past the gardens, beyond the meadows, and deep into the groves and woodlots he has known and loved. What he brings back is a lover's report on a life-long affair of his. He is still contrary, thank goodness, more respectful of forests than of forestry; but A Sanctuary of Trees is a wonderfully woodsy book, neatly wrapped around a personal memoir. Reading it, we watch Logsdon casually learn about sassafras, chain saws, mistletoe, log houses, cordwood, birdsong, and a hundred other bits of vital forest lore. In private life he may be a tree hugger, and this narrative is seductive enough so that any thoughtful reader will probably develop similar symptoms."--Ronald Jager, author of Eighty Acres, Last House on the Road, and The Fate of Family Farming

Booklist-
In more than two dozen works of nonfiction, horticulture expert Logsdon has doled out invaluable advice on everything from berry growing and organic orcharding to homesteading and managing manure. Now, at 79, reflecting back on a life spent in close proximity to the woodland groves of his native rural Ohio, Logsdon offers both a fond recollection of his long relationship with trees and a meditation on the remarkable versatility of harvested timber. Beginning with his boyhood days on an Ohio family farm where his love of nature first took root, Logsdon takes the reader through his adolescence at a seminary where the one bright spot was a nearby forest, to his first professional job with Farm Journal in then untamed suburban Philadelphia, and finally back to Ohio, living with his growing family in a tree shadowed country home. Yet his own reminiscences are just a staging ground for a plethora of fascinating tree facts, including a virtual manual on using wood for total energy self-sufficiency. As always, Logsdon’s superbly measured prose entertains as much as it educates.

ForeWord Reviews-
Gene Logsdon is a man with a mission: He wants to encourage Americans to maintain small home woodlots, heat with wood, and return to what he calls a wood culture and a wood economy. A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon’s latest book, discusses in detail the feasibility of depending on wood for fuel, both for individual households and for our country as a whole. He makes a strong case. 

In A Sanctuary of Trees the reader learns about trees in American history and culture, how fast different species grow, how easily their wood splits, how hot it burns, and even which wood leaves fewest ashes. Techniques the author shares for using a chainsaw may save some fingers—certainly they should save some aggravation! The pleasures of gathering nuts and tips for cracking them come into the picture, too. 

Memoir, argument, lessons learned, advice offered—beyond these valuable elements, the book is simply a delight to read. Every page is rich with the happiness of a life well lived, a life the author wishes for us all. Like the woodlots he values so deeply, A Sanctuary of Trees is both resource and refuge. It is impossible to read this without feeling enlightened and grateful.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Logsdon

Over the course of his long life and career as a writer, farmer, and journalist, Gene Logsdon published more than two dozen books, both practical and philosophical, on all aspects of rural life and affairs. His nonfiction works include Gene Everlasting, A Sanctuary of Trees, and Living at Nature’s Pace. He wrote a popular blog, The Contrary Farmer, as well as an award-winning column for the Carey, Ohio, Progressor Times. Gene was also a contributor to Farming Magazine and The Draft Horse Journal. He lived and farmed in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he died in 2016, a few weeks after finishing his final book, Letter to a Young Farmer.

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Holy Shit

Holy Shit

By Gene Logsdon

In his insightful new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure-our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure-worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value-but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.

With his trademark humor, his years of experience writing about both farming and waste management, and his uncanny eye for the small but important details, Logsdon artfully describes how to manage farm manure, pet manure and human manure to make fertilizer and humus. He covers the field, so to speak, discussing topics like:

  • How to select the right pitchfork for the job and use it correctly
  • How to operate a small manure spreader
  • How to build a barn manure pack with farm animal manure
  • How to compost cat and dog waste
  • How to recycle toilet water for irrigation purposes, and
  • How to get rid ourselves of our irrational paranoia about feces and urine.

Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.

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Gene Everlasting

Gene Everlasting

By Gene Logsdon

Author Gene Logsdon—whom Wendell Berry once called “the most experienced and best observer of agriculture we have”—has a notion: That it is a little easier for gardeners and farmers to accept death than the rest of the populace. Why? Because every day, farmers and gardeners help plants and animals begin life and help plants and animals end life. They are intimately attuned to the food chain. They understand how all living things are seated around a dining table, eating while being eaten. They realize that all of nature is in flux.

Gene Everlasting contains Logsdon’s reflections, by turns both humorous and heart-wrenching, on nature, death, and eternity, all from a contrary farmer’s perspective. He recounts joys and tragedies from his childhood in the 1930s and ‘40s spent on an Ohio farm, through adulthood and child-raising, all the way up to his recent bout with cancer, always with an eye toward the lessons that farming has taught him about life and its mysteries.

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Letter to a Young Farmer

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By Gene Logsdon

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.

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Good Spirits

Good Spirits

By Gene Logsdon

Here we go. Gene "The Contrary Farmer" Logsdon has taken on some controversial subjects in his time, but this time he has bitten off ("sipped on" doesn't sound right) a topic bound to raise strong feelings on both sides of society's moral boundary lines. His subject is alcohol and its traditional role on the family homestead. Not surprisingly, Gene speaks the bare-naked truth, and finds a lot more good than bad to say about booze.

Alcohol has historically played a significant role in agricultural life. In colonial times it was the most "liquid" alternative to hard currency as a means of exchange. Alcohol was the most reliable, safest, and most convenient way to store the grain harvest, and was an integral commodity on nearly every farmstead. Because it was so valued--does this surprise us?--the government muscled in, looking for its own piece of the action. George Washington was the first of many politicians to regulate alcohol as a means to generate revenues and gain political control.

Good Spirits is a rare and brave revisionist view of history. Logsdon is a master at exposing the absurdity of the commonplace. Does it really make sense that the government can make it illegal for us to combine common substances (grain, water, and yeast) on our own property? Can it be true that every war effort in the nation's history has been fueled literally and figuratively by alcohol and the tax revenues it produces? Why must the farmer fund the government that oppresses him?

In between good-natured tirades, Logsdon makes sure the reader learns some valuable lessons. He tells us how to make beer; he teaches the rudiments of distilling; he interviews Booker Noe (patron of America's First Family of bourbon) to tell us how to sip and tell; and he adds lively tales from alcohol's quasi-legitimate past. This is vintage Contrary Farmer: 100-proof, single-barrel select. Good Spirits is outrageous, entertaining, enlightening, and an eye-poppingly interesting, natural and holistic look at the role of alcohol. You will savor this book like a snifter of Calvados, the double-distilled apple brandy of Normandy that evaporates on the tongue like a heavenly ambrosia. Heady stuff, but delicious when consumed in moderation.

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AUTHOR VIDEOS

Gene Logsdon's Holy Shit

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Author Gene Logsdon—whom Wendell Berry once called “the most experienced and best observer of agriculture we have”—has a notion: That it is a little easier for gardeners and farmers to accept death than the rest of the populace. Why? Because every day, farmers and gardeners help plants and animals begin life and help plants and animals end life. They are intimately attuned to the food chain. They understand how all living things are seated around a dining table, eating while being eaten. They realize that all of nature is in flux.

Gene Everlasting contains Logsdon’s reflections, by turns both humorous and heart-wrenching, on nature, death, and eternity, all from a contrary farmer’s perspective. He recounts joys and tragedies from his childhood in the 1930s and ‘40s spent on an Ohio farm, through adulthood and child-raising, all the way up to his recent bout with cancer, always with an eye toward the lessons that farming has taught him about life and its mysteries.

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