Dig into our Articles - Nature & Environment
“Having a relationship with the rest of nature is knowing that we can, if we wish, rekindle our lost connections, because somewhere deep inside us all, there lives a little spark of ‘wild’ just waiting to be ignited.” —Brigit Strawbridge Howard Our planet is home to at least 20,000 species of bees—a statistic most of…Read More
By Jill Kiedaisch, Content and Brand Manager “If I have to face up to the reality of climate change as an 11-year-old, then so do you.” The words of one of the countless youth speakers who shouted into microphones at “5,800 events in 163 countries” around the world last Friday, September 20, 2019. Millions of…Read More
Bees are commonly thought to live together by the thousands. Many people picture a buzzing hive filled with bees, all working together to take care of the young, collect pollen, and promote the overall health of the colony. However, there are thousands of species of bees that aren’t part of a colony. These solitary bees…Read More
Nature & Environment
Towards Zero Waste
How to Live a Circular Life
ideas and inspiration for those looking to reduce their household waste
Is recycling really the answer to household waste? How do we eliminate microplastics from our wastewater? How do we avoid consumer goods that are designed to break? How do we stop the oceans being trashed? Towards Zero Waste offers practical tools for change in your own kitchen, on your weekly shop and around your home, as well as in the wider world. Féidhlim Harty explores how and why we need to go zero waste, firstly looking at where waste currently goes, and revealing the hidden world of food and product miles and embodied energy. He shares how to reduce waste room by room, at events, parties, during our travels, and at work. Having minimised waste for over two decades, Féidhlim and his family share their clever ideas to eliminate junk, buy wisely, free yourself from useless packaging, reduce not only your eco footprint but your household bills, compost all biodegradables, and reuse, repair and reroute. They share five simple steps to zero waste and inspire us to be active and push for change.
There is a hunger now within society to address the root causes of plastic waste, right back to the point of oil and gas extraction. People want no part in adding to plastics in the oceans or spreading microplastics into our water, soils and food. Nor do they want to be subjected to the cynical betrayal of consumer built-in obsolescence. Patience with government policy and corporate greenwashing is wearing thin. Towards Zero Waste offers clear guidance for anyone wanting to actively be part of the solutions and not the problems.
Wetland, Woodland, Wildland
A Guide to the Natural Communities of Vermont, 2nd Edition
Co-published by The Vermont Fish & Widlife Department, The Nature Conservancy, and Vermont Land Trust–a revised and updated 2nd edition
This book is a must-have for anyone wanting to understand Vermont’s forests, wetlands, mountaintops, and shores. Richly illustrated with beautiful line drawings and stunning color photographs, this accessible field guide will delight outdoor explorers and armchair naturalists alike. The book starts with an introduction to the natural community concept and the factors influencing our natural systems, from wind and water to soil and rocks. Then, the book offers a lucid and enjoyable journey into Vermont’s geologic past, with stories of colliding continents, sea floor sediments, and mysterious whale bones. This follows with a journey through all of Vermont’s nine distinct biophysical regions, from the cold and wild Northeastern Highlands to the warm and dry Taconic Mountains.
The bulk of the book describes Vermont’s natural communities—its northern hardwood forests, dry oak woodlands, alpine tundra, cedar swamps, bogs, and marshes—in comprehensive detail. Ecological settings, including geology, soils, climate, and natural disturbance processes, are described for each community, along with complete lists of characteristic plants and animals, as well as places to visit. Wetland, Woodland, Wildland is the definitive guide to Vermont’s natural communities, and is packed with information unavailable elsewhere. It offers practical information for naturalists, teachers, students, landowners, land managers, foresters, conservation planners, and all those with a love of nature who want to learn more about their surroundings.
The first edition of this book, published in 2000, has become a mainstay for naturalists and students throughout Vermont and surrounding states and provinces. This second edition is completely updated to incorporate new research and a growing knowledge about natural communities, as well as a deeper understanding of climate change and its implications for conservation into the future.
This newly updated book will be a prized addition to your natural history library, but it won’t remain on the shelf. You will want to take it with you every time you explore the outdoors. Each paragraph will bring new insights and will deepen your understanding and appreciation of wild nature around you. You will surely want to share this book with friends.
Dancing with Bees
A Journey Back to Nature
A naturalist’s passionate dive into the world of bees of all stripes–what she has learned about them, and what we can learn from them
Brigit Strawbridge Howard was shocked the day she realised she knew more about the French Revolution than she did about her native trees. And birds. And wildflowers. And bees. The thought stopped her—quite literally—in her tracks. But that day was also the start of a journey, one filled with silver birches and hairy-footed flower bees, skylarks, and rosebay willow herb, and the joy that comes with deepening one’s relationship with place. Dancing with Bees is Strawbridge Howard’s charming and eloquent account of a return to noticing, to rediscovering a perspective on the world that had somehow been lost to her for decades and to reconnecting with the natural world. With special care and attention to the plight of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees, and what we can do to help them, Strawbridge Howard shares fascinating details of the lives of flora and fauna that have filled her days with ever-increasing wonder and delight.
Walking with Trees
In Walking with Trees, Glennie Kindred takes us on an intimate and profoundly connecting walk with thirteen of our native trees. She leads us into their worlds and opens our hearts to their wonders, their qualities and their potential to heal. This is a book about relationships and inter-relationships: our relationship with the trees, their relationships with each other and with the natural world around them, and the flow of our communal relationship, past and present, which affects us all as the web of life on Earth.
Glennie’s passion for trees is infectious, and inspires us to look more closely, listen more intently and walk with trees more often. She shares her stories and encounters with trees and weaves together many ways to deepen our engagement with them, from growing them, harvesting and using them for medicine, food, and craftwork. She also encourages us to find our way into a more subtle and intuitive relationship with the trees, as part of our journey to heal our fractured relationship with the Earth.
As with all of Glennie’s books, the seasonal cycles and the Earth festivals are interwoven and provide further ways to deepen our journey with trees. This is a book about possibilities, for those who care for our environment. This is a book that reminds you of what you might have missed or forgotten, and reminds you of your power. This is a book of our time, where we recognise our deep interconnectivity with the trees, with all of life and with the Earth herself. It inspires us to open our arms and hearts wide, and joyfully embrace the changes. Illustrated with the author’s exquisite pencil drawings.
Water in Plain Sight
Hope for a Thirsty World
Water scarcity is on everyone’s mind. Long taken for granted, water availability has become dependent on economics, politics, and people’s food and lifestyle choices. But as anxiety mounts—and even as a swath of California farmland has been left fallow, and extremist groups worldwide exploit the desperation of people losing livelihoods to desertification—many are finding new routes to water security with key implications for food access, economic resilience, and climate change.
Water does not perish, nor does it require millions of years to form as do fossil fuels. However water is always on the move and we must learn to work with its natural movement. In this timely, important book, Judith D. Schwartz presents a refreshing perspective on water that transcends zero-sum thinking. By allying with the water cycle, we can revive lush, productive landscapes, like the river in rural Zimbabwe that now flows miles further than it has in living memory thanks to restorative grazing; the fruit-filled food forest in Tucson, Arizona, grown by harvesting urban wastewater; or the mini-oasis in West Texas nourished by dew.
Animated by stories from around the globe, Water In Plain Sight is an inspiring reminder that fixing the future of our drying planet involves understanding what makes natural systems thrive.
Trees of Power
Ten Essential Arboreal Allies
The organic grower’s guide to planting, propagation, culture, and ecology
Trees are our allies in healing the world. Partnering with trees allows us to build soil, enhance biodiversity, increase wildlife populations, grow food and medicine, and pull carbon out of the atmosphere, sequestering it in the soil.
Trees of Power explains how we can work with these arboreal allies, specifically focusing on propagation, planting, and individual species. Author Akiva Silver is an enthusiastic tree grower with years of experience running his own commercial nursery. In this book he clearly explains the most important concepts necessary for success with perennial woody plants. It’s broken down into two parts: the first covering concepts and horticultural skills and the second with in-depth information on individual species. You’ll learn different ways to propagate trees: by seed, grafting, layering, or with cuttings. These time-honored techniques make it easy for anyone to increase their stock of trees, simply and inexpensively.
Ten chapters focus on the specific ecology, culture, and uses of different trees, ones that are common to North America and in other temperate parts of the world:
Chestnut: The Bread Tree
Apples: The Magnetic Center
Poplar: The Homemaker
Ash: Maker of Wood
Mulberry: The Giving Tree
Elderberry: The Caretaker
Hickory: Pillars of Life
Hazelnut: The Provider
Black Locust: The Restoration Tree
Beech: The Root Runner
Trees of Power fills an urgent need for up-to-date information on some of our most important tree species, those that have multiple benefits for humans, animals, and nature. It also provides inspiration for new generations of tree stewards and caretakers who will not only benefit themselves, but leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Trees of Power is for everyone who wants to connect with trees. It is for the survivalist, the gardener, the homesteader, the forager, the permaculturist, the environmentalist, the parent, the schoolteacher, the farmer, and anyone who feels a deep kinship with these magnificent beings.
Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene
Over the past hundred years, gulls have been brought ashore by modernity. They now live not only on the coasts but in our slipstream following trawlers, barges, and garbage trucks. They are more our contemporaries than most birds, living their wild lives among us in towns and cities. In many ways they live as we do, walking the built-up world and grabbing a bite where they can. Yet this disturbs us. We’ve started fearing gulls for getting good at being among us. We see them as scavengers, not entrepreneurs; ocean-going aliens, not refugees. They are too big for the world they have entered. Their story is our story too.
Landfill is the original and compelling story of how in the Anthropocene we have learned about the natural world, named and catalogued it, and then colonized it, planted it, or filled it with our junk. While most other birds have gone in the opposite direction, hiding away from us, some vanishing forever, gulls continue to tell us how the wild can share our world. For these reasons Landfill is the nature book for our times, groundbreaking and genre-bending. Without nostalgia or eulogy, it kicks beneath the littered surface of the things to discover stranger truths.
The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter
WINNER of the 2019 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
Washington Post “50 Notable Works of Nonfiction”
Science News “Favorite Science Books of 2018”
Booklist “Top Ten Science/Technology Book of 2018”
“A marvelously humor-laced page-turner about the science of semi-aquatic rodents…. A masterpiece of a treatise on the natural world.”—The Washington Post
In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America’s lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers”—including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens—recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. From the Nevada deserts to the Scottish highlands, Believers are now hard at work restoring these industrious rodents to their former haunts. Eager is a powerful story about one of the world’s most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change. Ultimately, it’s about how we can learn to coexist, harmoniously and even beneficially, with our fellow travelers on this planet.
Using Fire to Cool the Earth
An 800-CEO-READ “Editor’s Choice” March 2019
How We Can Harness Carbon to Help Solve the Climate Crisis
In order to rescue ourselves from climate catastrophe, we need to radically alter how humans live on Earth. We have to go from spending carbon to banking it. We have to put back the trees, wetlands, and corals. We have to regrow the soil and turn back the desert. We have to save whales, wombats, and wolves. We have to reverse the flow of greenhouse gases and send them in exactly the opposite direction: down, not up. We have to flip the carbon cycle and run it backwards. For such a revolutionary transformation we’ll need civilization 2.0.
A secret unlocked by the ancients of the Amazon for its ability to transform impoverished tropical soils into terra preta—fertile black earths—points the way. The indigenous custom of converting organic materials into long lasting carbon has enjoyed a reawakening in recent decades as the quest for more sustainable farming methods has grown. Yet the benefits of this carbonized material, now called biochar, extend far beyond the soil. Pyrolyzing carbon has the power to restore a natural balance by unmining the coal and undrilling the oil and gas. Employed to its full potential, it can run the carbon cycle in reverse and remake Earth as a garden planet.
Burn looks beyond renewable biomass or carbon capture energy systems to offer a bigger and bolder vision for the next phase of human progress, moving carbon from wasted sources:
- into soils and agricultural systems to rebalance the carbon, nitrogen, and related cycles; enhance nutrient density in food; rebuild topsoil; and condition urban and agricultural lands to withstand flooding and drought
- to cleanse water by carbon filtration and trophic cascades within the world’s rivers, oceans, and wetlands
- to shift urban infrastructures such as buildings, roads, bridges, and ports, incorporating drawdown materials and components, replacing steel, concrete, polymers, and composites with biological carbon
- to drive economic reorganization by incentivizing carbon drawdown
Fully developed, this approach costs nothing—to the contrary, it can save companies money or provide new revenue streams. It contains the seeds of a new, circular economy in which energy, natural resources, and human ingenuity enter a virtuous cycle of improvement. Burn offers bold new solutions to climate change that can begin right now.
New Farmer Library Set
Save 10% when you purchase this exclusive online set
In this limited-edition set, you’ll get the first three books in our New Farmer Library series where we collect innovative ideas, hard-earned wisdom, and practical advice from pioneers of the ecological farming movement. This series provides the next generation of farmers with proven techniques and philosophies from experienced voices committed to organic, small-scale, regenerative farming. Each book in the series offers the new farmer essential tips, inspiration, and first-hand knowledge of what it takes to grow food close to the land.
“Extends, expands, and updates Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America, then puts forth a vision of a land of resilient small farms ready to survive the present and thrive into the future.”—Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener
Over the past seventy years, the industrial farming system and its ruinous practices have exhausted our soils, poisoned our groundwater, and provided the basis for a food culture that is making most of our population sick. In order to move forward, toward a more regenerative and sustainable form of agriculture, we must look back to recover the lessons that traditional agricultural societies can teach us about subsistence, stewardship, social organization, community, and resilience.
Farming for the Long Haul by author and organic farmer Michael Foley is the guide to building a viable small farm economy—one that can withstand the economic, political, and climatic shock waves that the twenty-first century portends.
“Instead of taking us through his work, season by season, crop by crop–the narrative approach–Madison explores his farm and its methods analytically, from many overlapping angles. The result is profoundly interesting.” — The New York Review of Books
In Fruitful Labor, Mike Madison meticulously describes the ecology of his own small family farm in the Sacramento Valley of California. He covers issues of crop ecology such as soil fertility, irrigation needs, and species interactions, as well as the broader agroecological issues of the social, economic, regulatory, and technological environments in which the farm operates. The final section includes an extensive analysis of sustainability on every level.
With a welcome mix of philosophy and pragmatism, Fruitful Labor is sure to inspire a new generation of farmers and provide an in-depth look at sustainable agriculture and farming practices.
Practical advice from one of farming’s “founding curmudgeons.” 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 Logsdon’s earthy wit and irreverent humor combine with his valuable perspectives on many wide-ranging subjects—everything from how to show a ram who’s the boss to enjoying the almost churchlike calmness of a wellbuilt livestock barn.
Combined, the wisdom passed along by Logsdon and Berry ensures that this book will provide both a practical and philosophical grounding for young farmers who are seeking a new way of life as small-scale “garden farmers” rather than the “get big or get out” approach to farming that has come to define much of Western agriculture.
What Animals Can Teach Us about Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom
Reflections on feeding body and spirit in a world of change
Animal scientists have long considered domestic livestock to be too dumb to know how to eat right, but the lifetime research of animal behaviorist Fred Provenza and his colleagues has debunked this myth. Their work shows that when given a choice of natural foods, livestock have an astoundingly refined palate, nibbling through the day on as many as fifty kinds of grasses, forbs, and shrubs to meet their nutritional needs with remarkable precision.
In Nourishment Provenza presents his thesis of the wisdom body, a wisdom that links flavor-feedback relationships at a cellular level with biochemically rich foods to meet the body’s nutritional and medicinal needs. Provenza explores the fascinating complexity of these relationships as he raises and answers thought-provoking questions about what we can learn from animals about nutritional wisdom.
What kinds of memories form the basis for how herbivores, and humans, recognize foods? Can a body develop nutritional and medicinal memories in utero and early in life? Do humans still possess the wisdom to select nourishing diets? Or, has that ability been hijacked by nutritional “authorities”? Consumers eager for a “quick fix” have empowered the multibillion-dollar-a-year supplement industry, but is taking supplements and enriching and fortifying foods helping us, or is it hurting us?
On a broader scale Provenza explores the relationships among facets of complex, poorly understood, ever-changing ecological, social, and economic systems in light of an unpredictable future. To what degree do we lose contact with life-sustaining energies when the foods we eat come from anywhere but where we live? To what degree do we lose the mythological relationship that links us physically and spiritually with Mother Earth who nurtures our lives?
Provenza’s paradigm-changing exploration of these questions has implications that could vastly improve our health through a simple change in the way we view our relationships with the plants and animals we eat. Our health could be improved by eating biochemically rich foods and by creating cultures that know how to combine foods into meals that nourish and satiate. Provenza contends the voices of “authority” disconnect most people from a personal search to discover the inner wisdom that can nourish body and spirit. That journey means embracing wonder and uncertainty and avoiding illusions of stability and control as we dine on a planet in a universe bent on consuming itself.
Gwen the Rescue Hen
Gwen has spent her whole life in a big egg-laying hen house, so she knows very little about what chickens can do (besides lay eggs, of course). A fateful tornado turns her world upside-down and sideways, landing her in a strange new place that’s nothing like the hen house.
Using her wits and chicken superpowers, Gwen dodges danger at every turn until she finds safety and friendship with a boy named Mateo. Together they discover how extraordinary an ordinary chicken really is.
The book includes a bonus section called “More About Chickens,” where curious readers can learn that chickens have extraordinary eyesight, a complex language of 24 sounds, and are descended from dinosaurs, among other fun facts.
Gwen the Rescue Hen is the second children’s book in Stone Pier Press’s Farm Animal Rescue Series, perfect for ages 4 to 7. The first book, Sprig the Rescue Pig, was released in the Spring of 2018.
The Biotime Log
Discover the joys of keeping The Biotime Log! Biotime, or biological time, runs at a very different pace and rhythm to human time. It can be observed by recording events in the natural world. These can be as varied as the day the first spring bulb opens, the last frost before summer, or the first sighting of a species of bird or insect in a new habitat. These events can be part of a larger natural rhythm, like the turning of the seasons, or an indicator of slow changes in an ecosystem, like unusual weather patterns or an increase of average temperatures. This helps gardeners, nature watchers. On a larger scale, we can also reflect on our own biological rhythms relating to the waxing and waning of the moon and the seasons and beyond!
The Biotime Log provides a sound introduction to biotime and how to keep your own log. This is useful for:
- Gardeners to plan new plantings and crops protection
- Nature lovers to record natural rhythms like the annual migration of birds
- Ecologists to log new volunteer species in the local ecosystem
- For health and wellbeing, to record our own biological rhythms relating to the waxing and waning of the moon and the seasons.
Beautifully illustrated, this ready-made book in which you can note your day-to-day observations will last for years. There are no days or years, just the dates of each month with two days allocated to each page. This allows you to record events by first adding the year at the beginning of each of your entries. Over time you build a picture that you can refer to year on year to compare your observations. Create your own fascinating record of your local environment and its rhythms and mysteries! Your observation will deepen your connection with the natural world around you, your understanding of its cycles, and your appreciation of your local ecosystems.
An Arboreal Love Affair
In his latest book, Mesquite, Gary Paul Nabhan employs humor and contemplative reflection to convince readers that they have never really glimpsed the essence of what he calls “arboreality.”
As a Franciscan brother and ethnobotanist who has often mixed mirth with earth, laughter with landscape, food with frolic, Nabhan now takes on a large, many-branched question: What does it means to be a tree, or, accordingly, to be in a deep and intimate relationship with one?
To answer this question, Nabhan does not disappear into a forest but exposes himself to some of the most austere hyper-arid terrain on the planet—the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts along the US/Mexico border—where even the most ancient perennial plants are not tall and thin, but stunted and squat.
There, in desert regions that cover more than a third of our continent, mesquite trees have become the staff of life, not just for indigenous cultures, but for myriad creatures, many of which respond to these “nurse plants” in wildly intelligent and symbiotic ways.
In this landscape, where Nabhan claims that nearly every surviving being either sticks, stinks, stings, or sings, he finds more lives thriving than you could ever shake a stick at. As he weaves his arid yarns, we suddenly realize that our normal view of the world has been turned on its head: where we once saw scarcity, there is abundance; where we once perceived severity, there is whimsy. Desert cultures that we once assumed lived in “food deserts” are secretly savoring a most delicious world.
Drawing on his half-century of immersion in desert ethnobotany, ecology, linguistics, agroforestry, and eco-gastronomy, Nabhan opens up for us a hidden world that we had never glimpsed before. Along the way, he explores the sensuous reality surrounding this most useful and generous tree.
Mesquite is a book that will delight mystics and foresters, naturalists and foodies. It combines cutting-edge science with a generous sprinkling of humor and folk wisdom, even including traditional recipes for cooking with mesquite.
Call of the Reed Warbler
A New Agriculture, A New Earth
“Charles Massy has written a definitive masterpiece that takes its place along with the writings of Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, Masanobu Fukuoka, Humberto Maturana, and Michael Pollan. No work has more brilliantly defined regenerative agriculture and the breadth of its restorative impact upon human health, biodiversity, climate, and ecological intelligence.” –Paul Hawken
In Call of the Reed Warbler, Charles Massy explores regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health.
It is the story of how a grassroots revolution—a true underground insurgency—can save the planet, help reduce and reverse climate change, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food.
Using his personal experience as a touchstone—from an unknowing, chemical-using farmer with dead soils to a radical ecologist farmer carefully regenerating a 2000-hectare property to a state of natural health—Massy tells the real story behind industrial agriculture and the global profit-obsessed corporations driving it. With evocative stories, he shows how other innovative and courageous farmers are finding a new way.
At stake is not only a revolution in human health and in our communities, but the very survival of the planet. For farmers, backyard gardeners, food buyers, health workers, policy makers, and public leaders alike, Call of the Reed Warbler offers a tangible path forward and a powerful and moving paean of hope.
It’s not too late to regenerate the earth. Call of the Reed Warbler shows the way forward for the future of our food supply, our planet, and our health.
The Balance Point
A Missing Link in Human Consciousness, 2nd Edition
The Balance Point is the story of a search for something so mysterious that the main character doesn’t even know what it is, or how to recognize it if he finds it. It touches on science, mathematics, economics, and other big-ticket issues such as religion and spirituality, in a manner that is both illuminating and disturbing.
Until her sudden and inexplicable death, Dr. Lucille Boggs, a maverick scientist at a large western university, had been uncovering surprising answers as to why people are so indifferent to environmental degradation. The Balance Point tells the story of her research through the eyes of her nephew, who receives her Last Will and Testament and, with it, becomes her final hope. Lured by the promise of a rich inheritance, Joseph Jenkins reluctantly assumes responsibility for finishing Dr. Boggs’ work, inadvertently plunging himself and his family into the midst of a puzzle of global proportions.
The Balance Point takes the reader on a page-turning adventure from the author’s comfortable Pennsylvania home to the farthest reaches of civilization in a search to solve Lucy’s puzzle. On their quest to locate the missing links to her mystery, though, they discover that some answers lie closer to home, and that sometimes, the only way to find them is to look inside oneself.
A timely book with cutting-edge relevance, The Balance Point conveys a message that will be stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned. Although highly recommended for anyone concerned about the state of the planet, it also makes a great gift for the environmentally complacent.