Gaian Economics is the second volume in the Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series and sets out to explore how we can develop healthy and abundant societies in harmony with our finite planetary resources.
Using contributions from a wealth of authors (including Small Is Beautiful’s E. F. Schumacher, eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, and Rob Hopkins of the Transition movement), the editors address ways of reducing our consumption to levels that enable natural systems to self-regenerate and to do so in ways that permit a high quality of life—that we live within our means and that we live well.
Since the advent of the Scientific Revolution in the sixteenth century, humans have stood apart from the rest of nature, seeking to manipulate it for their benefit. Thus, we have learned to refer to the natural world as “the environment” and to see it, in economic terms, as little more than a bank of resources to be transformed into products for human use and pleasure. This has brought us to the brink of collapse, with natural systems straining under the weight of the population and the levels at which we are consuming.
We are, however, on the threshold of a shift into a new way of seeing and understanding the world and our place within it—called, by some, the “Ecological Age.” It will be characterized by a new understanding of our place as a thread in the web of life, of our interconnectedness with all other living things. Gaian Economics offers ways forward toward this Ecological Age, giving suggestions for how it may take shape, and how it would work.
The Four Keys represent the four dimensions of sustainable design—the Worldview, the Social, the Ecological, and the Economic. This series is endorsed by UNESCO and is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The other books of the series are Beyond You and Me, Designing Ecological Habitats, and The Song of the Earth. The Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series was completed in 2012 and is now available in the U.S. for the first time.
Available in: Paperback
Designing Ecological Habitats
Designing Ecological Habitats is the third volume in the Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series and is an important and eloquent exploration of humanity’s limits to growth, addressing the problems arising from climate change, habitat destruction, population growth, and resource depletion.
This is not a book of theoretical ideas but an anthology of solutions, of experience, tried and tested, from experts all over the world. The designs and practices included in this book present a vision for the future, already tested out in ecovillages, sustainable communities, and projects in many countries. These are practical low-carbon solutions that provide significant improvements in the quality of life.
Designing Ecological Habitats is an anthology of work by writers who have created, built, lived in, and thrived in eco-developments, and addresses green building, food resources, appropriate technology, and restoring nature.
“By understanding the process of creating integrated ecological designs, we also make explicit the process of creating integrated social and economic systems. We reconnect with the true meaning of ecology that comes from the Greek word oikos, meaning ‘home’ or ‘a place to live.’ Humanity’s greatest challenge is to ensure that planet Earth can support human life far into future centuries not only by adapting to climate change but also by mitigating it.”—from the Foreword by Mark Richmond, director, Division of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, UNESCO Education Sector.
The Four Keys represent the four dimensions of sustainable design—the Worldview, the Social, the Ecological, and the Economic. This series is endorsed by UNESCO and is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The other books of the series are Beyond You and Me, Gaian Economics, and The Song of the Earth. The Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series was completed in 2012 and is now available in the U.S. for the first time.
The Song of the Earth
The Song of the Earth is the fourth and final volume in the Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series and brings together the voices of leading visionaries in science, spirituality, indigenous wisdom, innovative community, and social activism to paint a powerful portrait of new possibilities for the human family.
People across the globe yearn for a new civilization of harmony and vibrant cooperation among all peoples—living in balance with the Earth. This vision is not a dreamy fantasy; it is the birthright of humanity.
Stories, interviews, articles, and ideas from all over the world are collected to create an integral worldview for others to build upon. “The Song of the Earth contains voices that need to be heard, voices that affirm the unity of all life.”—Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
The Song of the Earth is the attempt to create an integral picture. It is the call to explore the marvelous web of life on our planet. It asks that we consciously design gentle, sustainable lifestyles and communities that honor diversity in all forms. The celebrated list of contributors includes Satish Kumar, Wangari Maathai, Joanna Macy, Chris Johnstone, Duane Elgin, Thomas Berry, Elisabet Sahtouris, Ross and Hildur Jackson, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, David Korten, The Venerable Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche, and Stephan Harding.
The Four Keys represent the four dimensions of sustainable design—the Worldview, the Social, the Ecological and the Economic. This series is endorsed by UNESCO and is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The other books of the series are Beyond You and Me, Gaian Economics, and Designing Ecological Habitats. The Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series was completed in 2012 and is now available in the U.S. for the first time.
Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist
By Michael Judd
Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist is a how-to manual for the budding gardener and experienced green thumb alike, full of creative and easy-to-follow designs that guide you to having your yard and eating it, too. With the help of more than 200 beautiful color photos and drawings, permaculture designer and avid grower Michael Judd takes the reader on a step-by-step process to transform a sea of grass into a flourishing edible landscape that pleases the eye as well as the taste buds. With personality and humor, he translates the complexities of permaculture design into simple self-build projects, providing full details on the evolving design process, material identification, and costs. Chapters cover:
The book’s colorful pages are filled with practical designs that Judd has created and built over years of workshops, homesteading, and running an edible landscaping business. Though geared toward suburban gardeners starting from scratch, the book's designs can be easily grafted to the micro-habits of the urban landscape, scaled up to the acreage of homesteads, or adapted to already flourishing landscapes. Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist is a tool to spark and inform the imagination of anyone with a desire to turn their landscape into a luscious and productive edible Eden.
By Judith Anger and Immo Fiebrig and Martin Schnyder
Want to grow food but have nothing larger than a balcony, windowsill, or a piece of wall? No problem! This is a gardening book with a difference. It will help you to grow your own fruit, vegetables, herbs, and even mushrooms in small spaces in the most ecological way possible. Edible Cities shows you why the urban landscape can be a great place for permaculture. Discover inside:
• Principles of permaculture
• Worldwide examples of urban gardening projects
• Ideas for flats and balconies
• Green roofs
• Vertical gardening and urban beekeeping
• Guerrilla gardening and successful community projects
• Illustrated practical techniques with clear instructions
• Preface and contributions by Sepp Holzer
• Urban case studies from cities all over the world.
Packed with inspiration and practical, fully illustrated ideas, discover how people around the world are inventing new growing opportunities and making them a reality with few resources and a lot of creativity. Find out how you, too, can plan and create your own urban growing paradise.
By Janet Millington and Carolyn Nuttal
Outdoor Classrooms: A Handbook for School Gardens is ideal for teachers and home educators who want to incorporate education at all levels of the school curriculum with an emphasis on:
Beautifully illustrated throughout, Outdoor Classrooms is presented as two streams of thought:
Carolyn takes us through the history of school gardens and articulates the need for a revival before leading us on an enticing journey of the imagination into the schoolyard and delight in the natural world.
Janet then offers a comprehensive and practical plan for developing “a successful, supported school garden that has the potential to benefit an entire community.”
Out on a Limb
By Benjamin Kilham
In Out on a Limb, Ben Kilham invites us into the world he has come to know best: the world of black bears.
For decades, Kilham has studied wild black bears in a vast tract of Northern New Hampshire woodlands. At times, he has also taken in orphaned infants—feeding them, walking them through the forest for months to help them decipher their natural world, and eventually reintroducing them back into the wild. Once free, the orphaned bears still regard him as their mother. And one of these bears, now a 17-year-old female, has given him extraordinary access to her daily life, opening a rare window into how she and the wild bears she lives among carry out their daily lives, raise their young, and communicate.
Witnessing this world has led to some remarkable discoveries. For years, scientists have considered black bears to be mostly solitary. Kilham's observations, though, reveal the extraordinary interactions wild bears have with each other. They form friendships and alliances; abide by a code of conduct that keeps their world orderly; and when their own food supplies are ample, they even help out other bears in need.
Could these cooperative behaviors, he asks, mimic behavior that existed in the animal that became human? In watching bears, do we see our earliest forms of communications unfold?
Kilham's dyslexia once barred him from getting an advanced academic degree, securing funding for his research, and publishing his observations in the scientific literature. After being shunned by the traditional scientific community, though, Kilham’s unique findings now interest bear researchers worldwide. His techniques even aid scientists working with pandas in China and bears in Russia.
Moreover, the observation skills that fueled Kilham’s exceptional work turned out to be born of his dyslexia. His ability to think in pictures and decipher systems makes him a unique interpreter of the bear's world.
Out on a Limb delivers Kilham’s fascinating glimpse at the inner world of bears, and also makes a passionate case for science, and education in general, to open its doors to different ways of learning and researching—doors that could lead to far broader realms of discovery.
Kilham and his work have been featured in five internationally televised documentaries. In addition to being on over forty nationally broadcast radio shows including National Public Radio, he has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, The David Letterman Show, and more.
Available in: Hardcover
The Zero Waste Solution
By Paul Connett
Waste is something we all make every day but often pay little attention to. That's changing, and model programs around the globe show the many different ways a community can strive for, and achieve, zero-waste status.
Scientist-turned-activist Paul Connett, a leading international figure in decades-long battles to fight pollution, has championed efforts to curtail overconsumption and keep industrial toxins out of our air and drinking water and bodies. But he’s best known around the world for leading efforts to help communities deal with their waste in sustainable ways—in other words, to eliminate and reuse waste rather than burn it or stow it away in landfills.
In The Zero Waste Solution, Connett profiles the most successful zero-waste initiatives around the world, showing activists, planners, and entrepreneurs how to re-envision their community’s waste-handling process—by consuming less, turning organic waste into compost, recycling, reusing other waste, demanding nonwasteful product design, and creating jobs and bringing community members together in the process. The book also exposes the greenwashing behind renewed efforts to promote waste incinerators as safe, nontoxic energy suppliers, and gives detailed information on how communities can battle incineration projects that, even at their best, emit dangerous particles into the atmosphere, many of which remain unregulated or poorly regulated.
An important toolkit for anyone interested in creating sustainable communities, generating secure local jobs, and keeping toxic alternatives at bay.
Keeping a Family Cow
By Joann S. Grohman
The cow is the most productive, efficient creature on earth. She will give you fresh milk, cream, butter, and cheese, build human health and happiness, and even turn a profit for homesteaders and small farmers who seek to offer her bounty to the local market or neighborhood. She will provide rich manure for your garden or land, and will enrich the quality of your life as you benefit from the resources of the natural world. Quite simply, the family that keeps a cow is a healthy family.
Originally published in the early 1970s as The Cow Economy and reprinted many times over, Keeping a Family Cow has launched thousands of holistic small-scale dairy farmers and families raising healthy cows in accordance with their true nature. The book offers answers to frequently asked questions like, 'Should I get a cow?' and 'How Much Space do I need?' in addition to extensive information on:
• The health benefits of untreated milk;
• How to milk a cow effectively and with ease;
• Choosing your dairy breed;
• Drying off your cow;
• Details on calving and breeding;
• The importance of hay quality and how to properly feed your cow;
• Fencing and pasture management;
• Housing, water systems, and other supplies;
• Treating milk fever and other diseases and disorders;
• Making butter, yogurt, and cheese, and, of course . . .
• . . . Everything else the conventional dairy industry doesn’t tell us!
Now revised and updated to incorporate new information on the raw milk debate, the conversation about A1 vs. A2 milk, fully grassfed dairies, more practical advice for everyday chores, and updated procedures for cow emergencies.
Keeping a Family Cow has not only stood the test of time, it still remains the go-to inspirational manual for raising a family milk cow nearly forty years after its first publication. Joann Grohman has a lifetime of practical experience that has been bound into this one volume and presented in the spirit of fun and learning.
The Sugarmaker's Companion
By Michael Farrell
The Sugarmaker’s Companion is the first guide of its kind addressing the small- and large-scale syrup producer seeking to make a profitable business from maple, birch, and walnut sap. This comprehensive work incorporates valuable information on ecological forest management, value-added products, and the most up-to-date techniques on sap collection and processing. It is, most importantly, a guide to an integrated sugaring operation, interconnected to the whole-farm system, woodland, and community. Farrell documents the untapped potential of American forests and shows how sugaring can turn a substantial profit for farmers while providing tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction.
Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of the Uihlein Forest at Cornell University, offers information on setting up and maintaining a viable sugaring business by incorporating the wisdom of traditional sugarmaking with the value of modern technology (such as reverse-osmosis machines and vacuum tubing). He gives a balanced view of the industry while offering a realistic picture of how modern technology can be beneficial, from both an economic and an environmental perspective. Within these pages, readers will find if syrup production is right for them (and on what scale), determine how to find trees for tapping, learn the essentials of sap collection, the art and science of sugarmaking, and how to build community through syrup production.
There are many more unique aspects to this book that set it apart from anything else on the market, including:
• A focus on maple as a local, sustainably produced and healthy alternative to corn syrup and other highly processed and artificial sweeteners;
• The health benefits of sap and syrup in North America and throughout the world;
• Attention to the questions of organic certification, sugarhouse registration, and the new international grading system;
• Enhancing diversity in the sugarbush and interplanting understory crops for value-added products (ginseng, goldenseal, and mushrooms, specifically);
• An economic analysis of utilizing maple trees for syrup or sawtimber production and the market opportunities for taphole maple lumber;
• The value of sap as a healthful and profitable energy drink;
• Detailed analyses on the economics of buying and selling sap;
• Lots of great information on marketing to create a profitable business model (based on scale, interest, and access), and more. . . .
Applicable for a wide range of climates and regions, this book is sure to change the conversation around syrup production and prove invaluable for both home-scale and commercial sugarmakers alike.
The Log Book
By Will Rolls
Using a wood-burning stove effectively is both an art and a science. In this friendly, comprehensive guide, chartered forester and woodfuel expert Will Rolls talks the reader through the theory and practice of getting the best results from their stove. From finding the fuel and seasoning it to lighting the stove and operating it cleanly, this book describes the best techniques for looking after your log stove.
The Log Book covers log suppliers, avoiding too much smoke and ash, checking fuel quality, and picking the best wood for your fire. This second edition includes:
Advice for single-vent burners
From the Wood-Fired Oven
By Richard Miscovich
In the past twenty years, interest in wood-fired ovens has increased dramatically in the United States and abroad, but most books focus on how to bake bread or pizza in an oven. From the Wood-Fired Oven offers many more techniques for home and artisan bakers—from baking bread and making pizza to recipes on how to get as much use as possible out of a single oven firing, from the first live-fire roasting to drying wood for the next fire.
From the Wood-Fired Oven offers a new take on traditional techniques for professional bakers, but is simple enough to inspire any nonprofessional baking enthusiast. Leading baker and instructor Richard Miscovich wants people to use their ovens to fulfill the goal of maximum heat utilization. Readers will find methods and techniques for cooking and baking in a wood-fired oven in the order of the appropriate temperature window. What comes first—pizza, or pastry? Roasted vegetables or a braised pork loin? Clarified butter or beef jerky? In addition to an extensive section of delicious formulas for many types of bread, readers will find chapters on:
• Making pizza and other live-fire flatbreads;
• Roasting fish and meats;
• Grilling, steaming, braising, and frying;
• Baking pastry and other recipes beyond breads;
• Rendering animal fats and clarifying butter;
• Food dehydration and infusing oils;
• And myriad other ways to use the oven's residual heat.
Appendices include oven-design recommendations, a sample oven temperature log, Richard's baker's percentages, proper care of a sourdough starter, and more. . . .
From the Wood Fired Oven is more than a cookbook; it reminds the reader of how a wood-fired oven (and fire, by extension) draws people together and bestows a sense of comfort and fellowship, very real human needs, especially in uncertain times. Indeed, cooking and baking from a wood-fired oven is a basic part of a resilient lifestyle, and a perfect example of valuable traditional skills being put to use in modern times.
By Amory Lovins
Oil and coal have built our civilization, created our wealth, and enriched the lives of billions. Yet, their rising costs to our security, economy, health, and environment now outweigh their benefits. Moreover, that long-awaited energy tipping point—where alternatives work better than oil and coal and compete purely on cost—is no longer decades in the future. It is here and now. And it is the fulcrum of economic transformation.
A global clean-energy race has emerged with astounding speed. The ability to operate without fossil fuels will define winners and losers in business—and among nations.
In Reinventing Fire, Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute offer a new vision to revitalize business models, end-run Washington gridlock, and win the clean-energy race—not forced by public policy but led by business for enduring profit. This groundbreaking roadmap reveals market-based solutions across the transportation, building, industry, and electricity sectors. It highlights pathways and competitive strategies for a 158%-bigger 2050 U.S. economy that needs no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas, and no new inventions.
This transition would cost $5 trillion less than business-as-usual—without counting fossil fuels’ huge hidden costs. It requires no new federal taxes, subsidies, mandates, or laws. The policy innovations needed to unlock and speed it need no Act of Congress.
Whether you care most about profits and jobs, national security, health, or environmental stewardship, Reinventing Fire charts a pragmatic course that makes sense and makes money. With clarity and mastery, Lovins and RMI point out the astounding opportunities for enterprise to create the new energy era.
Drawing praise President Bill Clinton, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, and a host of others, Reinventing Fire has piqued the interest of world leaders, business leaders, and political strategists.
The paperback will carry a new preface detailing the response from China and beyond.
The New Cider Maker's Handbook
By Claude Jolicoeur
All around the world, the public’s taste for fermented cider has been growing more rapidly than at any time in the past 150 years. And with the growing interest in locally grown and artisanal foods, many new cideries are springing up all over North America, often started up by passionate amateurs who want to take their cider to the next level as small-scale craft producers.
To make the very best cider—whether for yourself, your family, and friends or for market—you first need a deep understanding of the processes involved, and the art and science behind them. Fortunately, The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is here to help. Author Claude Jolicoeur is an internationally known, award-winning cider maker with an inquiring, scientific mind. His book combines the best of traditional knowledge and techniques with up-to-date, scientifically based practices to provide today’s cider makers with all the tools they need to produce high-quality ciders.
The New Cider Maker’s Handbook is divided into five parts containing:
This book will appeal to both serious amateurs and professional cider makers who want to increase their knowledge, as well as to orchardists who want to grow cider apples for local or regional producers. Novices will appreciate the overview of the cider-making process, and, as they develop skills and confidence, the more in-depth technical information will serve as an invaluable reference that will be consulted again and again. This book is sure to become the definitive modern work on cider making.
A mechanical engineer by profession, Claude Jolicoeur first developed his passion for apples and cider after acquiring a piece of land on which there were four rows of old abandoned apple trees. He started making cider in 1988 using a “no-compromise” approach, stubbornly searching for the highest possible quality. Since then, his ciders have earned many awards and medals at competitions, including a Best of Show at the prestigious Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP).
Claude actively participates in discussions on forums like the Cider Digest, and is regularly invited as a guest speaker to events such as the annual Cider Days festival in western Massachusetts. He lives in Quebec City.
Market Farming Success
By Lynn Byczynski
An insider's guide to market gardening and farming for those in the business of growing and selling food, flowers, herbs, or plants.
Market Farming Success identifies the key areas that usually trip up beginners—and shows how to avoid those obstacles. This book will help the aspiring or beginning farmer advance quickly and confidently through the inevitable learning curve of starting a new business.
Written by the editor of Growing for Market, a respected trade journal for market farmers, Market Farming Success condenses decades of growing experience from every part of the United States and Canada. It focuses on the factors that are common to market gardeners everywhere and offers professional advice that includes:
• How much you'll need to spend to start a market farming business;
• How much you can expect to earn;
• Which crops bring in the most money—and whether you should grow them;
• The essential tools and equipment you will need;
• The best places to sell your products;
• How to keep records to maximize profits and minimize taxes;
• Tricks of the trade that will make you more efficient in the greenhouse, field, and market.
This new Chelsea Green edition of a 2006 classic is greatly updated and expanded, and includes full-color photos, charts, and graphs, plus many inspiring and instructive profiles of successful market-farming pioneers.
Fields of Farmers
By Joel Salatin
America’s average farmer is sixty years old. When young people can’t get in, old people can’t get out. Approaching a watershed moment, our culture desperately needs a generational transfer of millions of farm acres facing abandonment, development, or amalgamation into ever-larger holdings. Based on his decades of experience with interns and multigenerational partnerships at Polyface Farm, farmer and author Joel Salatin digs deep into the problems and solutions surrounding this land- and knowledge-transfer crisis. This book empowers aspiring young farmers, midlife farmers, and nonfarming landlords to build regenerative, profitable agricultural enterprises.
Cooking Close to Home
By Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz
Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes is a collection of over 150 original recipes designed to follow the seasons. Whether you are a home gardener, a farmers' market regular, or a member of a community-supported agriculture program, this cookbook will serve as a seasonal guide to using the foods available in your region. Each recipe includes useful "Harvest Hints" that explain how to find, purchase, prepare, and preserve fresh and seasonal ingredients. Within each chapter you will find information about sustainable food, small family farms, and how to reduce your carbon footprint by buying local foods. There are also appetizing food photographs and inspiring stories of farms, orchards, and farmers' markets throughout the northeast.
Sowing Seeds in the Desert
By Masanobu Fukuoka
The earth is in great peril, due to the corporatization of agriculture, the rising climate crisis, and the ever-increasing levels of global poverty, starvation, and desertification on a massive scale. This present condition of global trauma is not "natural," but a result of humanity's destructive actions. And, according to Masanobu Fukuoka, it is reversible. We need to change not only our methods of earth stewardship, but also the very way we think about the relationship between human beings and nature.
Fukuoka grew up on a farm on the island of Shikoku in Japan. As a young man he worked as a customs inspector for plants going into and out of the country. This was in the 1930s when science seemed poised to create a new world of abundance and leisure, when people fully believed they could improve upon nature by applying scientific methods and thereby reap untold rewards. While working there, Fukuoka had an insight that changed his life forever. He returned to his home village and applied this insight to developing a revolutionary new way of farming that he believed would be of great benefit to society. This method, which he called "natural farming," involved working with, not in opposition to, nature.
Fukuoka's inspiring and internationally best-selling book, The One-Straw Revolution was first published in English in 1978. In this book, Fukuoka described his philosophy of natural farming and why he came to farm the way he did. One-Straw was a huge success in the West, and spoke directly to the growing movement of organic farmers and activists seeking a new way of life. For years after its publication, Fukuoka traveled around the world spreading his teachings and developing a devoted following of farmers seeking to get closer to the truth of nature.
Sowing Seeds in the Desert, a summation of those years of travel and research, is Fukuoka's last major work-and perhaps his most important. Fukuoka spent years working with people and organizations in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States, to prove that you could, indeed, grow food and regenerate forests with very little irrigation in the most desolate of places. Only by greening the desert, he said, would the world ever achieve true food security.
This revolutionary book presents Fukuoka's plan to rehabilitate the deserts of the world using natural farming, including practical solutions for feeding a growing human population, rehabilitating damaged landscapes, reversing the spread of desertification, and providing a deep understanding of the relationship between human beings and nature. Fukuoka's message comes right at the time when people around the world seem to have lost their frame of reference, and offers us a way forward.
The New Vegetable Growers Handbook
By Frank Tozer
The New Vegetable Growers Handbook is an updated version of Frank Tozer's acclaimed book The Vegetable Growers Handbook. Like the original, it covers every aspect of growing all of the common crops (and a number of uncommon ones). As a long-time home gardener, the author knows exactly what information you need to succeed and presents it in a clear, thorough, and even entertaining fashion. There are step-by-step instructions on soil preparation, variety selection, raising transplants, direct sowing, watering, protection, harvesting, storage, seed saving, and much more. He doesn’t just tell you what to do and when to do it, he also tells you why, by explaining in detail how crops grow and why they sometimes don't. The original book received high marks from reader reviewers, with comments like "fantastic," "my gardening bible," and "this book provides more detailed and easy-to-read information on individual crops than any other gardening book I've seen." This new, revised edition has been expanded by 50 percent, with more information on more crops, with the aim of creating the most useful and practical book on vegetable gardening available anywhere.
By Don Mitchell
When Middlebury writing professor Don Mitchell was approached by a biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department about tracking endangered Indiana bats on his 150-acre farm in Vermont's picturesque Champlain Valley, Mitchell's relationship with bats—and with government—could be characterized as distrustful, at best.
But the flying rats, as Mitchell initially thinks of them, launched him on a series of "improvements" to his land that would provide a more welcoming habitat for the bats—and a modest tax break for himself and his family. Whether persuading his neighbors to join him on a "silent meditation," pulling invasive garlic mustard out of the ground by hand, navigating the tacit ground rules of buying an ATV off Craigslist, or leaving just enough honeysuckle to give government inspectors "something to find," Mitchell’s tale is as profound as it is funny—a journey that changes Mitchell’s relationship with Chiroptera, the land, and, ultimately, his understanding of his own past.
Ruminating on the nature of authority, the purview of the state, and the value of inhabiting one’s niche—Mitchell reveals much about our inner and outer landscape, in this perfectly paced and skilled story of place.
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