Chelsea Green Publishing

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
June 03, 2013


The Resilient Farm and Homestead is a manual for developing durable, beautiful, and highly functional human habitat systems fit to handle an age of rapid transition.

Ben Falk is a land designer and site developer whose permaculture-research farm has drawn national attention. The site is a terraced paradise on a hillside in Vermont that would otherwise be overlooked by conventional farmers as unworthy farmland. Falk’s wide array of fruit trees, rice paddies (relatively unheard of in the Northeast), ducks, nuts, and earth-inspired buildings is a hopeful image for the future of regenerative agriculture and modern homesteading.

The book covers nearly every strategy Falk and his team have been testing at the Whole Systems Research Farm over the past decade, as well as experiments from other sites Falk has designed through his off-farm consulting business. The book includes detailed information on earthworks; gravity-fed water systems; species composition; the site-design process; site management; fuelwood hedge production and processing; human health and nutrient-dense production strategies; rapid topsoil formation and remineralization; agroforestry/silvopasture/grazing; ecosystem services, especially regarding flood mitigation; fertility management; human labor and social-systems aspects; tools/equipment/appropriate technology; and much more, complete with gorgeous photography and detailed design drawings.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead is more than just a book of tricks and techniques for regenerative site development, but offers actual working results in living within complex farm-ecosystems based on research from the “great thinkers” in permaculture, and presents a viable home-scale model for an intentional food-producing ecosystem in cold climates, and beyond. Inspiring to would-be homesteaders everywhere, but especially for those who find themselves with “unlikely” farming land, Falk is an inspiration in what can be done by imitating natural systems, and making the most of what we have by re-imagining what’s possible. A gorgeous case study for the homestead of the future.


Foreword Reviews-

"Permaculture can seem like a too-large umbrella term attempting to bring together a range of concepts and strategies, and many authors have tried to articulate the discipline in an accessible way. Ben Falk stands out for this highly successful effort at addressing how farmers and homesteaders can select, design, develop, and manage resilient properties that adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Bringing his decade of experience managing a ten-acre permaculture farm in Vermont, as well as teaching about whole-systems design, Falk conveys the importance of better-designed agriculture and systems in The Resilient Farm and Homestead. Going beyond how-to advice on vegetable growing or chicken coop management, he delves into topics like fuel wood production, nutrient-dense food production, and gravity-fed water systems, which rely on moving water downhill instead of utilizing mechanical pumps. Natural strategies are emphasized, like silvopasture, a practice that combines livestock grazing and forestry to enhance soil protection and provide wind protection for animals.

The material, seemingly overwhelming in scope, is presented artfully with numerous sidebars and bullet points that break information into digestible chunks. For example, a chapter on food production includes a chart on annual vs. perennial labor and input costs, a diagram of a “living security fence” made of black locust trees, and a list of storage options for harvested vegetables. Particularly compelling are a number of appendices, from a “resiliency aptitude quiz” to a crucial skill list for emergencies to a vocabulary of concepts.

Also useful, the book’s abundant photography presents a bucolic, serene series of images that make urban dwellers sigh with longing. Burlap sacks brimming with potatoes grace one page, while a lush summer garden pops from another. Farm volunteers are shown picking elderberries, raising a timber-framed wall, and grafting fruit trees. Falk also includes plenty of practical illustrations as well, such as a drawing of how to grow rice in buckets, or a diagram of a wood-heated hot water system.

The combination of these inspiring images and Falk’s deeply integrative approach provide a much-needed permaculture guide that will likely kick off an array of reader projects. The mix of resources, practical advice, and land design offered here is a strong starting point for anyone interested in regenerative agriculture and modern homesteading." 

"With The Resilient Farm and Homestead, Ben Falk has definitely planted the seeds of a positive, abundant legacy. This book outlines the process of designing one's homestead with not just the future in mind, but the imminently practical NOW!  This one is going on my shelf next to Helen and Scott Nearing."--Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture

"Ben Falk extends the conversation about resilience to deep resilience--resilience from the level of personal attitudes and skills to the design and creation of the maximally resilient homestead.The Resilient Farm and Homestead weaves together permaculture theory as modified by actual practice on a ten-acre Vermont farm with a thorough preparedness guide for times of climate change and greater uncertainties of all kinds and sizes. The book is greatly enhanced by numerous glorious photos of permaculture plantings as hedge rows, rice paddies, people swimming in swale-enclosed ponds, fruit and vegetable harvesting, and foraging sheep, chickens, and ducks. I particularly appreciate that Falk tells us what didn't work as well as what did. This book will be essential reading for the serious prepper as well as for everyone interested in creating a more resilient lifestyle or landscape."--Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

"Imagine. Honoring biodiversity in a place we each commit to for the long haul is what it takes to address a rapidly changing climate. Problem solved! Plant trees, let greenness thrive, learn the ways of fungi, be joyful. Ben Falk provides the encouragement and critical know-how to create your own food-producing sanctuary in The Resilient Farm and Homestead. The time is now to engage in healing the land and secure an ongoing future for generations to come."--Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard

"The Resilient Farm and Homestead is a terrific book. Simultaneously inspiring and practical, Ben Falk takes you from the why to the how...a journey where you will create a present and future filled with optimism and joy."--Shannon Hayes, author of Long Way on a Little and Radical Homemakers

"In The Resilient Farm and Homestead, Ben Falk gives us a delightful and inspiring description of his years developing a 10-acre permaculture farm in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  Readers from regions outside New England, however, should not assume that Falk’s practical, hard-won knowledge will not apply to them.  His discussions invariably transcend the specific applications revealing principles which should be useful to homesteaders everywhere."--Larry Korn, editor of The One-Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka

"Ben Falk calls his book about reviving a wornout hill farm in Vermont an example of resilience and regeneration; I call it pure natural magic. Grow rice in New England? Yes. Heat water to 155 degrees F on cold winter days at a rate of gallon a minute by piping it through a compost pile? Yes. How about dinner tonight of your own rack of lamb garnished with homegrown mushrooms? Yes. Your choice of scores of different vegetables and fruits even in winter? Yes. Plus, your own dairy products from your own sheep. All the while, the soil producing this magic, on a site once thought little more than a wasteland, grows yearly more fertile and secure from natural calamity."--Gene Logsdon, author of A Sanctuary of Trees and Small-Scale Grain Raising

Publishers Weekly-

STARRED REVIEW: "This intelligent, challenging book, rooted somewhere between back-to-the-land idealism and radical survivalism, sees resilience as both planting and building for the use of future generations, but also as preparing food, water, shelter, and the human body and psyche for the onset of any imaginable extreme emergency. The result is a comprehensive, open-ended, theoretical and practical system for a post-carbon-dependent life—including site design; water and earthworks; perennial farming that integrates gardening, animal husbandry, and soil building; energy; architecture; and personal health—a system that is not only sustainable but restorative of the biosphere. Readers just dipping their toes into sustainability may be overwhelmed by Falk’s comprehensive vision and intimidating appendices listing homestead vulnerabilities and crucial skills for emergencies, but more seasoned 21st-century homesteaders, permies, and possibly also survivalists will appreciate Falk’s realism and his belief that 'the process is an enjoyable, vitalizing one, and the results are staggering and humbling ... life wants to live.'"


  • Winner - American Horticultural Society Book Award


Ben Falk

Ben Falk, M.A.L.D, developed Whole Systems Design, LLC, as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things. Life as a designer, builder, ecologist, tree-tender, and backcountry traveler continually informs Ben's integrative approach to developing landscapes and buildings. His home landscape and the WSD studio site in Vermont's Mad River Valley serve as a proving ground for the innovative land developments featured in the projects of Whole Systems Design. Ben has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds master of arts in landscape design degree. He has taught design courses at the University of Vermont and Harvard's Arnold Arboretum as well as on permaculture design, microclimate design, and design for climate change. He recently served on the board of directors at the Yestermorrow Design-Build School, where he also teaches from time to time. He is the author of The Resilient Homestead: Innovative Permaculture Systems for the Home and Farm.


Ben Falk TEDx Talk: Homestead Resiliency, Food Systems Regeneration

Regenerative Landscapes: Ben Falk, Whole Systems Design

Food Systems Resiliency, Bioneers Vermont 2011

Growing and Processing Rice at the Whole Systems Research Farm, 3 years in

Rice Paddy Construction At Whole Systems Research Farm

Ben Falk Overviews Swales at the Whole Systems Research Farm

Whole Systems Design Applied Permaculture Design Course

Hurricane Irene and Swales at the WSRF

Intensive Rotational Grazing_Whole Systems Design Carbon Farming

Ben Falk Speaks at NOFA VT 2013 Winter Conference

Regeneration_Ben Falk

Ben Falk in Bloom a film on Lake Champlain by Bright Blue Ecomedia

Ben Falk on "Good Design"

Ben Falk on "Good Design"

Ben Falk Overviews While Systems Design, LLC


Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD)

Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD)

By Eric Toensmeier

Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs, need no annual tilling or planting, yet thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season.

In this DVD—a culmination of workshops recorded in Mexico, Florida, and Massachusetts—plant specialist Eric Toensmeier introduces gardeners to more than 100 species of little-known, underappreciated plants. Ranging beyond the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke) to include such delights as ground cherry, ramps, air potatoes, the fragrant spring tree, and the much-sought-after, antioxidant-rich wolfberry (also known as the goji berry), Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and culinary satisfaction. Toensmeier also takes viewers on a plant-by-plant tour of his garden in Massachusetts.

In Toensmeier's book, Perennial Vegetables (Chelsea Green, 2007), the adventurous gardener will find information, tips, and sound advice on less-common edibles that will make any garden a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food. In his book, readers will find perennial vegetables are perfect as part of an edible-landscape plan or permaculture garden. Profiling more than a hundred species, with dozens of color photographs and illustrations, and filled with valuable growing tips, recipes, and resources, Perennial Vegetables is a groundbreaking and ground-healing book that will open the eyes of gardeners everywhere to the exciting world of edible perennials.

Available in: DVD

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Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD)

Eric Toensmeier

DVD $29.95

Permaculture Design

Permaculture Design

By Aranya

Are you excited about permaculture but unclear how to put it into practice for yourself? In this unique, full colour guide, experienced permaculture teacher Aranya leads you through the design process from beginning to end, using clear explanations, flowcharts and diagrams. It is based on course worksheets which have been designed, refined and tested on students over time. Linking theory to practice, he places the ethics, principles, philosophies, tools and techniques directly into the context of the process itself. While written for anyone with a basic grasp of permaculture, this book also has plenty to offer the more experienced designer.

This guide covers:  Systems and patterns ~ Working as part of a design team ~ Land and non-land based design ~ Design frameworks ~ Site surveying and map making ~ Interviewing clients ~ Working with large client groups ~ Identifying functions ~ Choosing systems and elements ~ Placement and integration ~ Creating a design proposal ~ Project management ~ Presenting your ideas to clients ~ and much more.

A great reference for anyone who has done, or is thinking of doing, any kind of permaculture course.

Available in: Paperback

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Permaculture Design

Aranya, Patrick Whitefield

Paperback $24.95

The Earth Care Manual

The Earth Care Manual

By Patrick Whitefield

The long-awaited exploration of permaculture specifically for cooler Northern Hemisphere climates is finally here! Already regarded as the definitive book on the subject, The Earth Care Manual is accessible to the curious novice as much as it is essential for the knowledgeable practitioner.

Permaculture started out in the 1970s as a sustainable alternative to modern agriculture, taking its inspiration from natural ecosystems. It has always placed an emphasis on gardening, but since then it has expanded to include many other aspects, from community design to energy use. It can be seen as an overall framework that puts a diversity of green ideas into perspective. Its aims are low work, high output, and genuine sustainability.

Available in: Hardcover

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The Earth Care Manual

Patrick Whitefield

Hardcover $75.00

Desert or Paradise

Desert or Paradise

By Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 5,000 feet above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, and waterways, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures. Fans of Sepp Holzer have come from all over the world to see the productivity of his farm, a veritable permaculture paradise. His first book, Sepp Holzer's Permaculture, offers a detailed guide to what Holzer has achieved on his farm. Many readers might have wondered-but how can we achieve this on a global scale? Luckily, his newest book, Desert or Paradise, examines Holzer's core philosophy for increasing food production, earth health, and reconnecting mankind with nature, applied to reforestation and water conservation across the world.

Through years of consultation with other countries, Holzer has developed a core philosophy for reconnecting mankind with nature even in arid or otherwise "lost-cause" regions. He details a process he calls "Grundierung," a term from painting meaning "base coat," which goes into great detail the importance of water, and Desert or Paradise offers his concept and guide to construction of large water reservoirs in arid, rainfall-dependent regions with examples from Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Portugal. Holzer describes the ecological and economic benefits of these changes, as well as the use of a variety of plant and animal species for further integration and regeneration of the surrounding areas, including reasons for reforestation and the cause and use of forest fires.

Holzer also outlines his ten points of sustainable self-reliance and how these methods can help feed the world, such as the need to regulate the water budget, eliminate factory livestock farming, bring more fallow or unused areas into production, enlarge crop areas by using terracing and Holzer-style raised beds, regionalize instead of globalize, fight for land reform and engage in community building, go back to the ancient farming wisdom, and change the educational system. Also included are Holzer's ideas on beekeeping, humane slaughtering, nature spirits, the loss of roots in our society in general, and in politics especially.

Available in: Paperback

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Desert or Paradise

Sepp Holzer

Paperback $29.95