Chelsea Green Publishing

Grass, Soil, Hope

Pages:272 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585453
Pub. Date May 23, 2014
eBook: 9781603585460
Pub. Date May 23, 2014

Grass, Soil, Hope

A Journey Through Carbon Country

By Courtney White
Foreword by Michael Pollan

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
May 23, 2014

$19.95 $9.97

Availability: In Stock

eBook

Available Date:
May 23, 2014

$19.95 $9.97

This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress, and economic instability?

The quick answers are: Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals.

Scientists maintain that a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. But how could this be accomplished? What would it cost? Is it even possible? 

Yes, says author Courtney White, it is not only possible, but essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and our economy.

Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food.

In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil then we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Foreword Reviews-

“Optimism about scientific observations and what people can do to improve the environment makes this book inspiring. In Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey through Carbon Country, Courtney White provides a compelling and practical account of how carbon—an essential element and building block of life—may hold the answer to many pressing issues. Smart land use that captures carbon in the soil can enhance the climate, plant and animal diversity, our waterways, the quality of our food, and our quality of life in general. An engaging storyteller, White describes farmers, ranchers, scientists, artists, and many “everyday” people who are putting these ideas into action.  White has crafted a challenging, engaging narrative that will compel many readers to reconsider the link between our soil and the future of our planet.”

Kirkus Reviews-

White (Revolution on the Range: The Rise of a New Ranch in the American West, 2008 etc.) shows how taking measures to increase the carbon content of the soil can help mitigate global warming. 'Around 30 to 40 percent of the carbon created by photosynthesis can be exuded directly into soil via plant roots to nurture the microbes that help plants grow and build healthy soil,” writes the author. The author traveled to speak with soil scientists and visited ranches in the American Southwest and Australia to witness how modern, high-tech ranches were using satellite monitoring and on-the-ground scrutiny to check the condition of the land. He discovered massive ranches that were divided into continually monitored small plots, where farmers tested the soil and ground cover condition and moisture in order to determine where and when to rotate cattle, which were contained by solar-powered, mobile fencing. White also spoke with scientists at the University of California whose experimental data buttressed his hypotheses about carbon soil capture. The author reports efforts to restore wetlands that “can sequester carbon at rates up to fifty times those of tropical forests.' White concludes that some sort of incentive-based carbon offset market is required to encourage high-tech investment in soil management. An inspiring can-do approach to the threat of global warming.”

CHOICE-

“When one thinks of climate change, soil generally is not the first thing that comes to mind. White (Revolution on the Range, 2008), however, takes readers on a journey demonstrating the carbon sequestration power of dirt. He visited ranchers, farmers, urban agriculturists, restoration ecologists, and scientists across the US and in Australia and outlines approaches that not only decrease carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere but also improve ecosystem and human health. Though the case studies clearly show the myriad benefits of these techniques, which include no-till agriculture, pasture cropping, planned grazing systems, and wetland restoration, White also acknowledges challenges that might arise in implementing them. Other books extolling the importance of soil have come out recently and cover much of the same ground. White's background as the cofounder of the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit that brings together ranchers, environmentalists, and scientists to work to improve land health and build resilience, gives him an inside perspective on the issues he presents and makes the book more accessible to ranchers. Although he sometimes strays off on unrelated tangents, overall, this is an engaging and hopeful read of how humans can work with nature for a brighter future. Summing Up: Recommended. Students of all levels, general readers, and professionals/practitioners.”

“A great practical book that I hope will be read by many people in all walks of life, even those who still doubt human-induced climate change. No technology even imaginable can restore nature’s past healthy functioning over the Earth’s greatest land areas--its vast grasslands. The solutions Courtney illustrates can and will do what is required, and he tells the story well.”--Allan Savory, president and founder of the Savory Institute

“This is a book to read for many reasons: to learn about the Earth’s carbon cycle; to glimpse ways ‘conservation’ is evolving, especially in the semi-arid West; and to understand the future of ranching and sustainable agriculture. It’s also a book to read if you want to be infused with hope, and inspired to play a broader role in the face of climate change. For many of us who think about ways to create a more resilient world for future generations, it pays to think more about carbon. This book will get you started.”--Jonathan Overpeck, co-director, Institute of the Environment; professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson

“Grass, soil, hope: three simple words with the power to tackle society’s most challenging problems. A ray of sunshine, converted by grass into carbon and stored in the soil, represents the possibility of a brighter future. Courtney White takes us on an enlightening journey to farms, ranches, and ecosystems around the world to show us where the most important molecule of life—carbon—is regenerating landscapes. An empowering and uplifting read!”--Gabe Brown, owner, Brown’s Ranch, Bismarck, North Dakota

"Grass, Soil, Hope is not just another gloom-and-doom composition about global climate change.  Courtney White takes the reader back to earth's beginnings to help illustrate the vital role of carbon in sustaining life and then gives real-life, real-time examples of agricultural practitioners who are using creativity and common sense to grow food, restore watersheds and wildlife habitat, and, yes, sequester lots of carbon.”--William McDonald, fifth-generation cattle rancher; founder and director of the Malpai Borderlands Group

Grass, Soil, Hope is a wonderfully accessible account of the promise of soil and agriculture for a better climate and better future.”--Thomas E. Lovejoy, professor of environmental science and policy, George Mason University, and senior fellow, United Nations Foundation

“This delightful diamond of a book is a tour-de-force that covers the story of carbon from the Big Bang to your backyard. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in how carbon endlessly cycles from soil into plants and animals (including humans), most of the things we create, and then on into the atmosphere that blankets our planet. At a time when environmental narratives have become gloomy, this book is a breath of optimism exhaled with practical recommendations for moving carbon from the air back into the soil, for the health of the planet and every creature on it.”--Fred Provenza, professor emeritus, Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University

“Courtney White employs a masterful blend of storytelling and science to communicate a most hopeful message: that building healthy soils – in some surprising and creative ways – can help solve our food, water, and climate challenges all at the same time.  The carbon-capturing farmers, ranchers, and conservationists whose work White so elegantly describes form the vanguard of a new movement of regenerative production that deserves society’s attention and support.  Inspiring, thought-provoking, energizing, and—at bottom – full of hope.”--Sandra Postel, Freshwater Fellow, National Geographic Society

“Courtney White's journey was sparked by a question: What if we looked at carbon not just as a ‘pollutant’, but from the standpoint of its role as the building block of life? What he found across the country and abroad were farmers, ranchers, and scientists who are working with the carbon cycle to build soil, restore ecosystems, and bolster productivity--in short, embracing life to generate more life. At once plain-spoken and radical, this book promises to stir up hope even among those made cynical by relentless bad news. White has made the case for hope. Whether this is turned to action is up to us.”--Judith D. Schwartz, author, Cows Save the Planet

“Courtney White’s book offers refreshing insights on ‘climate-smart’ agriculture. In an era when farmers and ranchers are often vilified for environmental disruptions, this analysis gives an optimistic contrast: It’s a well-grounded practical outlook of the win-win outcomes of management practices by ranchers who are good stewards of soil carbon.”--L. Ann Thrupp, PhD, executive director, Berkeley Food Institute, University of California, Berkeley

“As anyone paying attention now knows, we will be facing numerous new challenges in our agriculture and food system in the near future. The most important ‘journey’ we all need to make in preparing for that future is, as Courtney White points out, to restore the biological health of our soil. The hopefulness in Courtney’s journey comes from his demonstration of the practical ways in which we can accomplish this task. Anyone interested in the future of food should read this remarkable, heartwarming book.”--Frederick Kirschenmann, author, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher

Grass, Soil, Hope takes us on a journey from one fascinating topic—and one inspirational, hardworking individual—to another.  The exciting concept of 'carbon farming', which Courtney White clearly articulates both with theory and with practical examples, could revolutionize our entire approach to environmental restoration. If widely applied, these techniques would reverse climate change, and reestablish health to the land, to ourselves, and to our communities. This is an important book that is filled with hope.”--Larry Korn, translator and editor of Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Courtney White

Courtney White is the author of Grass, Soil, Hope. A former archaeologist and Sierra Club activist, White dropped out of the “conflict industry” in 1997 to cofound the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges between ranchers, conservationists, and others around practices that improve economic and ecological resilience in western working landscapes. He is the author of Revolution on the Range, The Age of Consequences, and The Indelible West, a collection of black-and-white photographs with a foreword by Wallace Stegner. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his family and a backyard full of chickens.

AUTHOR EVENTS

October 02, 2015

Courtney White at Savory Institute International Conference

1333 Bayshore Hwy, Burlingame, CA, 94010 | Courtney White
Courtney White will be a speaker at this year's Savory Institute International Conference, titled "Artisans of the Grasslands: Crafting the Future for Food and Agriculture." This conference will take place October 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency Burlingame in the San Francisco Bay area. Regular registration is priced at $599, with early bird, student and quantity discounts available.

See all Events by this Author

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet

By Courtney White

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet profiles fifty innovative practices that soak up carbon dioxide in soils, reduce energy use, sustainably intensify food production, and increase water quality. The “two percent” refers to: the amount of new carbon in the soil needed to reap a wide variety of ecological and economic benefits; the percentage of the nation’s population who are farmers and ranchers; and the low financial cost (in terms of GDP) needed to get this work done.

As White explained in Grass, Soil, Hope, a highly efficient carbon cycle captures, stores, releases, and recaptures biochemical energy, mitigating climate change, increasing water storage capacities in soil, and making green plants grow. Best of all, we don’t have to invent anything new—a wide variety of innovative ideas and methods that put carbon back into the soil have been field-tested and proven to be practical and profitable. They’re mostly low-tech, too, relying on natural resources such as sunlight, green plants, animals, compost, beavers, creeks, and more.

In Two Percent Solutions for the Planet, White expands what he calls the “regenerative toolbox,” to include holistic grazing, edible forests, biochar, weed-eating livestock, food co-ops, keyline plowing, restoration agriculture, bioenergy, aquaponics, animal power, Farm Hack, bees, bears, wildlife corridors, rainwater harvesting, native seeds, and various other projects from across the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, and Australia. These short, engaging success stories will help readers connect the dots between diverse, exciting, and pragmatic practices, and inspire them to dig deeper into each individual story and concept, energized by the news that solutions abound.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Two Percent Solutions for the Planet

Courtney White

Paperback $24.95

The Art of Fermentation

The Art of Fermentation

By Sandor Ellix Katz

Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners.

While Katz expertly contextualizes fermentation in terms of biological and cultural evolution, health and nutrition, and even economics, this is primarily a compendium of practical information—how the processes work; parameters for safety; techniques for effective preservation; troubleshooting; and more.

With two-color illustrations and extended resources, this book provides essential wisdom for cooks, homesteaders, farmers, gleaners, foragers, and food lovers of any kind who want to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for arguably the oldest form of food preservation, and part of the roots of culture itself.

Readers will find detailed information on fermenting vegetables; sugars into alcohol (meads, wines, and ciders); sour tonic beverages; milk; grains and starchy tubers; beers (and other grain-based alcoholic beverages); beans; seeds; nuts; fish; meat; and eggs, as well as growing mold cultures, using fermentation in agriculture, art, and energy production, and considerations for commercial enterprises. Sandor Katz has introduced what will undoubtedly remain a classic in food literature, and is the first—and only—of its kind.

Available in: Hardcover, eBook

Read More

The Art of Fermentation

Sandor Ellix Katz, Michael Pollan

Hardcover $39.95

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

By Joel Salatin

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven is written by an honest-to-goodness-dirt-under-the-fingernails, optimistic clean good farmer. His goal is to:

  • Empower food buyers to pursue positive alternatives to the industrialized food system
  • Bring clean food farmers and their patrons into a teamwork relationship
  • Marry the best of western technology with the soul of eastern ethics
  • Educate food buyers about productions
  • Create a food system that enhances nature's ecology for future generations

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven has an overriding objective of encouraging every food buyer to embrace the notion that menus are a conscious decision, creating the next generation's world one bite at a time.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin

Paperback $17.95

AUTHOR VIDEOS

Quivira Coalition Conference 2012

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition

By Brad Lancaster

The award-winning Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape, is the first book in a three-volume guide that teaches you how to conceptualize, design, and implement sustainable water-harvesting systems for your home, landscape, and community. The lessons in this volume will enable you to assess your on-site resources, give you a diverse array of strategies to maximize their potential, and empower you with guiding principles to create an integrated, multi-functional water-harvesting plan specific to your site and needs.

This revised and expanded second edition increases potential for on-site harvests with more integrated tools and strategies for solar design, a primer on your water/energy/carbon connections, descriptions of water/erosion flow patterns and their water-harvesting response, and updated illustrations to show you how to do it all.

Volume 1 helps bring your site to life, reduce your cost of living, endow you with skills of self-reliance, and create living air conditioners of vegetation, growing beauty, food, and wildlife habitat. Stories of people who are successfully welcoming rain into their life and landscape will encourage you to do the same!

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition

Brad Lancaster

Paperback $29.95

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties

By Carol Deppe

All gardeners and farmers should be plant breeders, says author Carol Deppe. Developing new vegetable varieties doesn't require a specialized education, a lot of land, or even a lot of time. It can be done on any scale. It's enjoyable. It's deeply rewarding. You can get useful new varieties much faster than you might suppose. And you can eat your mistakes.

Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:

  • how to breed for a wide range of different traits (flavor, size, shape, or color; cold or heat tolerance; pest and disease resistance; and regional adaptation)
  • how to save seed and maintain varieties
  • how to conduct your own variety trials and other farm- or garden-based research
  • how to breed for performance under organic or sustainable growing methods

In this one-size-fits-all world of multinational seed companies, plant patents, and biotech monopolies, more and more gardeners and farmers are recognizing that they need to "take back their seeds." They need to save more of their own seed, grow and maintain the best traditional and regional varieties, and develop more of their own unique new varieties. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving shows the way, and offers an exciting introduction to a whole new gardening adventure.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties

Carol Deppe

Paperback $29.95

Seeing Nature

Seeing Nature

By Paul Krafel

Seeing Nature is a series of true stories or parables that offer tools for understanding relationships in the natural world. Many of the stories take the reader to wild landscapes, including canyons, tundra, and mountain ridges, while others contemplate the human-made world: water-diversion trenches and supermarket check-out lines. At one point, Krafel discovers a world in a one-inch-square patch of ordinary ground.

Inspiring for parents and teachers seeking to encourage excitement about the positive role of people in nature, Krafel's work harkens to St. Exupery's The Little Prince, Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted Trees. As Barbara Damrosch has noted:

[This book] is a gift.... With curiosity, wit, and a spare and graceful style, Krafel notes why birds in flocks land as they do, how islands can move upstream in a river, how kelp forests, swaying gently, break the force of the sea's power, how tundra plants create whole ecosystems on bare rock from mere specks of life. Yet there are no long-winded sermons about the woods, or cute anthropomorphizations of animals. The book's economical, unsentimental style is part of its originality.

Paul Krafel's years as a park ranger afforded him time to walk and think—his job was to observe the world around him. He is now a teacher, creating a curriculum for young people that is built on a startlingly simple truth: The world around us is an extended conversation between "upward spirals"—nature in regenerative, procreative modes—and downward spirals toward entropy and disintegration. As nature refreshes and rebuilds, the downward spirals are overcome. Nature's process becomes the process of replenishing hope.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Seeing Nature

Paul Krafel

Paperback $25.00

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

By Gary Paul Nabhan

How to harvest water and nutrients, select drought-tolerant plants, and create natural diversity

Because climatic uncertainty has now become "the new normal," many farmers, gardeners and orchard-keepers in North America are desperately seeking ways to adapt their food production to become more resilient in the face of such "global weirding." This book draws upon the wisdom and technical knowledge from desert farming traditions all around the world to offer time-tried strategies for:

  • Building greater moisture-holding capacity and nutrients in soils
  • Protecting fields from damaging winds, drought, and floods
  • Harvesting water from uplands to use in rain gardens and terraces filled with perennial crops
  • Delecting fruits, nuts, succulents, and herbaceous perennials that are best suited to warmer, drier climates

Gary Paul Nabhan is one of the world's experts on the agricultural traditions of arid lands. For this book he has visited indigenous and traditional farmers in the Gobi Desert, the Arabian Peninsula, the Sahara Desert, and Andalusia, as well as the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Painted deserts of North America, to learn firsthand their techniques and designs aimed at reducing heat and drought stress on orchards, fields, and dooryard gardens. This practical book also includes colorful "parables from the field" that exemplify how desert farmers think about increasing the carrying capacity and resilience of the lands and waters they steward. It is replete with detailed descriptions and diagrams of how to implement these desert-adapted practices in your own backyard, orchard, or farm.

This unique book is useful not only for farmers and permaculturists in the arid reaches of the Southwest or other desert regions. Its techniques and prophetic vision for achieving food security in the face of climate change may well need to be implemented across most of North America over the next half-century, and are already applicable in most of the semiarid West, Great Plains, and the U.S. Southwest and adjacent regions of Mexico.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land

Gary Paul Nabhan, Bill McKibben

Paperback $29.95