Chelsea Green Publishing

Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening

Pages:400 pages
Book Art:Color photos and illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584425
Pub. Date June 10, 2015

Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening

Innovative Techniques for Growing Vegetables, Grains, and Perennial Food Crops with Minimal Fossil Fuel and Animal Inputs

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
June 10, 2015

$34.95

"Society does not generally expect its farmers to be visionaries." Perhaps not, but longtime Maine farmer and homesteader Will Bonsall does possess a unique clarity of vision that extends all the way from the finer points of soil fertility and seed saving to exploring how we can transform civilization and make our world a better, more resilient place.

In Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening, Bonsall maintains that to achieve real wealth we first need to understand the economy of the land, to realize that things that might make sense economically don't always make sense ecologically, and vice versa. The marketplace distorts our values, and our modern dependence on petroleum in particular presents a serious barrier to creating a truly sustainable agriculture.

For him the solution is, first and foremost, greater self-reliance, especially in the areas of food and energy. By avoiding any off-farm inputs (fertilizers, minerals, and animal manures), Bonsall has learned how to practice a purely veganic, or plant-based, agriculture—not from a strictly moralistic or philosophical perspective, but because it makes good business sense: spend less instead of making more.

What this means in practical terms is that Bonsall draws upon the fertility of on-farm plant materials: compost, green manures, perennial grasses, and forest products like leaves and ramial wood chips. And he grows and harvests a diversity of crops from both cultivated and perennial plants: vegetables, grains, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and nuts—even uncommon but useful permaculture plants like groundnut (Apios).

In a friendly, almost conversational way, Bonsall imparts a wealth of knowledge drawn from his more than forty years of farming experience.

"My goal," he writes, "is not to feed the world, but to feed myself and let others feed themselves. If we all did that, it might be a good beginning."

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Publishers Weekly-

"Homesteader, organic farmer, and visionary Bonsall offers a thorough, albeit apocalyptic, farming guide to surviving the current times and, if need be, the end times. The title is misleading; the book is not so much a gardening guide as a set of survival instructions, and not for the casual gardener. Drawing on 40 years of personal experience growing his own food, Bonsall emphasizes three principles: economic exigency that requires making do; planning to survive a future catastrophe; and transforming civilization. To this end, the book focuses on staple foods, including grains, dried legumes, and oilseeds, as well as the usual greens and root crops, while discussing such fundamentals as assessing soil fertility, composting, using manure (including human), mulching, grafting, pollinating, seed saving, milling, malting, freezing and fermenting. The book will not suit everyone, but those who share Bonsall’s vision will be well served and firmly grounded. Over 200 full-color photos.” 

“Every gardener and small farmer can benefit from Will Bonsall's decades of focused, quality experience. Will's book is one of the key practical resources you should read—as you reach for full sustainable soil fertility in your garden or farm!”--John Jeavons, author, executive director of Ecology Action, and developer of sustainable biointensive mini-farming

"Will Bonsall’s homestead is a 'thinking farm,' not one engaged in armchair musings about agriculture, but where difficult questions are addressed by intense experimentation. This book pairs the incredible depth of Bonsall’s gardening knowledge with his infectious enthusiasm. It is both a magnificent reference and an inspiring call to action. Every practical lesson throughout is guided by the vision that our humble gardens can affect the world."--Steve Conaway, Conservation and Outreach Director at Greenwich (CT) Land Trust

“Every gardener and small farmer can benefit from Will Bonsall's decades of focused, quality experience. Will's book is one of the key practical resources you should read—as you reach for full sustainable soil fertility in your garden or farm!”--John Jeavons, author and developer of sustainable biologically intensive food-growing

“Here is a bright star in the constellation of voices for land-based sustainability. Not only is Will Bonsall incredibly learned – the result of decades of careful studies in the field and out – he is bawdy and brave and bold. His credibility is a Ph.D. in homesteading and his rambunctious wisdom is very worth reading. If you want to learn from a master, you need this book.”--Janisse Ray, author of The Seed Underground

"The risk of describing Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening as a gardening book is that the aspiring reader may miss the reality that it is really a book on life, centered as a good life should be, around a garden.

Will is a patient teacher with encyclopedic knowledge. His writing style is warm and authentic, accentuated by his dry New England humor. To read this book is akin to having Will stop by and visit by the glowing kitchen cookstove. He shares a lifetime of observations and conclusions – both useful and essential – and a deep respect for those who have come before us."--Jim Gerritsen, certified organic seed potato grower and owner of Wood Prairie Farm

"Will Bonsall—Mr. Scatterseed himself—has done it all, and this book covers it all, from maintaining soil fertility with minimal external inputs to growing annual and perennial vegetables, fruit, nuts, grain, beans, and even oilseed crops. Will’s methods are all vegan based and garden scale, with little resort to tools beyond hand tools and a rototiller and shredder. His description of making oil-seed seed meals and cooking with them is particularly interesting.

Will’s book is a great introduction to gardening for the beginner, and it also offers enough brand new original material to delight even the most expert. Best of all, the interweaving of Will’s coherent personal philosophy, decades of gardening experience, down-to-earth style, and touches of humor all make for an interesting, entertaining read."--Carol Deppe, author of The Tao of Vegetable Gardening  and The Resilient Gardener

"Eco-efficiency is the key new word and gardens-without-borders is the key new concept with which Will Bonsall illuminates 'this experiment we call civilization.' His view is wide and deep. You can accept his warm, witty invitation to explore the big questions. Or/and you can, with grace and ease, pluck out practical, hands-on directions as needed for all aspects of cyclical food production and use. I will read it again and again for reference, guidance, inspiration, and delight."--Eva Sommaripa, pioneering organic farmer at Eva's Garden in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and the hero of Wild Flavors by Didi Emmons

"If you wish to live well and eat well no matter what is going on in the rest of the world, this book is for you. Thresh your own grain and press your own oil. Can't buy seeds, no problem. Can't buy fertilizer, no problem. Will Bonsall will help you enjoy the good life under any and all conditions."--Eliot Coleman, author of The New Organic Grower and The Winter Harvest Handbook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Bonsall

Will Bonsall has worn many hats since going "back to the land," including prospector, draftsman, gravedigger, hobo, musician, logger, and artist, among others; however, he considers subsistence farming to be the only true career he ever had. He is the director of the Scatterseed Project, which he founded to help preserve our endangered crop-plant diversity. His first book, Through the Eyes of a Stranger (Xlibris, 2010), is an eco-novel set in a sustainable society of the future. Will lives and farms in Industry, Maine, with his wife, Molly Thorkildsen, and two sons.

AUTHOR VIDEOS

Seed to Seed

A look at the Scatterseed Project. Featuring Will Bonsall, author of Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening.

Will Bonsall - Seeds

Will Bonsall - Seeds

Repowering America

Repowering America

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

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.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Good Spirits

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $24.95

The Minimalist Gardener

The Minimalist Gardener

By Patrick Whitefield

Low input, year-round “no-dig” gardening that provides your kitchen with fresh healthy food, without breaking your back

Written by an acknowledged expert, this friendly guide will help you grow food in whatever space you have – large or small, rural or urban – with minimal purchased inputs, and maximum satisfaction.

This is the first in a collection of Patrick Whitefield’s pioneering writings, celebrating his life. It explores a cutting edge of permaculture gardening that is eminently practical and visionary all at the same time. Patrick describes an evolving system that is totally chemical free, requiring little input from outside the garden gate. His minimalist approach uses techniques such as no-dig, raised beds, perennial vegetables and self-seeding salads as ground cover, and mulching when appropriate. This minimizes garden maintenance whilst growing an abundance of produce year round. Patrick describes how to select plants based on what you like to eat and how to combine them in polycultures that confound would-be pests. He mixes annual hybrids, heritage varieties and perennial vegetables and has a pragmatic approach to selecting seeds and seed saving. There are also tips on fruit growing, from berries to fruit trees, including how to choose rootstocks and varieties.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Minimalist Gardener

Patrick Whitefield

Paperback $19.95

Permaculture in Pots

Permaculture in Pots

By Juliet Kemp

In these times of rising food prices and renewed interest in all things local, growing food in cities is becoming the big urban trend. Permaculture in Pots shows you how to get started with whatever space you have available--appealing to those who feel powerless to meet their own subsistence needs through lack of growing space.

Month by month we learn what to grow on a balcony or in a container garden, using low impact permaculture principles. It doesn’t matter when you pick up the book and start your journey of container gardening--wherever you are in the year, open the book to that chapter, and it will tell you what you should be doing.

Each month’s section details things to be done: how to plan ahead for the next season, and which fruit, vegetables, and herbs to be sowing, growing and eating.  There are recipes, photos and anecdotes from the author’s experience growing food on her small balcony in a London suburb. Kemp is warm and self-effacing, and makes an excellent guide. Each month has its own herb, with growing tips and culinary and medicinal uses for each.

As uncertainty rises about whether those outside the property ladder will ever get to own their own home, Permaculture in Pots gives power and opportunity back to generations who are becoming more aware of the need of self-sufficiency, and yet find themselves in rented homes with concrete where gardens once were.

 

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Permaculture in Pots

Juliet Kemp

Paperback $14.95

Your Successful Farm Business

Your Successful Farm Business

By Joel Salatin

Twenty years ago Joel Salatin wrote You Can Farm, which has launched thousands of farm entrepreneurs around the world. With another 20 years of experience under his belt, bringing him to the half-century mark as a full-time farmer, he decided to build on that foundation with a sequel, a graduate level curriculum.

Everyone who reads and enjoys that previous work will benefit from this additional information. In those 20 years, Polyface Farm progressed from a small family operation to a 20-person, 6,000-customer, 50-restaurant business, all without sales targets, government grants, or an off-farm nest egg.

As a germination tray for new farmers ready to take over the 50 percent of America's agricultural equity that will become available over the next two decades, Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley stands as a beacon of hope in a food and farming system floundering in dysfunction: toxicity, pathogenicity, nutrient deficiency, bankruptcy, geezers, and erosion. Speaking into that fear and confusion, Salatin offers a pathway to success, with production, profit, and pleasure thrown in for good measure.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Your Successful Farm Business

Joel Salatin

Paperback $30.00