Dig into our Articles - Nature & Environment
“Loving apples or cider is not a prerequisite for loving this book. All that is needed is the willingness to follow a vibrant narrative voice driven by the pursuit of dreams.”—Alice Feiring Andy Brennan owns Aaron Burr Cider in New York’s Catskills region. Since its founding in 2011, Aaron Burr Cider has become well known…Read More
We should just change the name of summer to elderberry season. It’s the perfect time to pick these berries (which aren’t actually berries) and make delicious jams, drinks, and sauces. Cooking or fermenting elderberries is crucial to unlocking their flavor. Once they are processed you will actually have an end product with plenty of health…Read More
Akiva Silver owns and operates Twisted Tree Farm, a homestead, nut orchard, and nursery located in Spencer, New York, where he grows around 20,000 trees per year using practices that go beyond organic. His background is in foraging, wilderness survival, and primitive skills. He has been observing nature intensively for the last 20 years, cultivating…Read More
Nature & Environment
Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land
Janisse Ray, award-winning author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Wild Card Quilt, writes an evocative paean to wildness and wilderness restoration with an extraordinary journey into southern Georgia’s Pinhook Swamp.
Pinhook Swamp acts as a vital watershed and wildlife corridor, a link between the great southern wildernesses of Okefenokee Swamp and Osceola National Forest. Together Okefenokee, Osceola, and Pinhook form one of the largest expanse of protected wild land east of the Mississippi River. This is one of America’s last truly wild places, and Pinhook takes us into its heart.
Ray comes to know Pinhook intimately as she joins the fight to protect it, spending the night in the swamp, tasting honey made from its flowers, tracking wildlife, and talking to others about their relationship with the swamp. Ray sees Pinhook through the eyes of the people who live there–naturalists, beekeepers, homesteaders, hunters, and locals at the country store. In lyrical, down-home prose, she draws together the swamp’s need for restoration and the human desire for wholeness and wildness in our own lives and landscapes.
The Earth Care Manual
A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates
As seen on the BBC 2 TV Series, It’s Not Easy Being Green (attracting over 3 million viewers), the critically acclaimed and definitive permaculture design book, reprinted due to popular demand
“You’ve probably never thought of yourself as the ultimate ‘eco-warrior’, but this book will make you think again… essential reading.” Kitchen Gardener
This is the book which inspired Brigit Strawbridge (It’s Not Easy Being Green, BBC2) to attended her first permaculture design course with Patrick Whitefield, and to set her and her family off on a voyage of discovery which is helping to introduce and inspire others to explore permaculture.
Already hailed in the UK, Europe and America as definitive, The Earth Care Manual offers an inspirational yet practical vision of a sustainable future invaluable to those new to the subject as well as to the experienced practitioner.
Permaculture started in the 1970s as a sustainable alternative to modern industrial agriculture, taking its inspiration from natural ecosystems. It placed an emphasis on gardening but since then, expanding on its principles, it now includes many other aspects, from building and community design to energy use. It is an interconnecting framework which links a diversity of green ideas. Its aims are a low input, high output efficient use of resources – and genuine sustainability.
The Earth Care Manual gives a vision of a sustainable future and the practical steps we can take towards it, both large and small, urban and rural. The book defines permaculture and places it in the context of the green movement.
Written by Patrick Whitefield, one of Europe’s foremost teachers and practitioners of temperate permaculture, it explains in depth how to apply permaculture to any situation, from the smallest of buildings or apartments, to houses, gardens, orchards, farms and woodlands. It covers subjects vital to sustainability including food, energy, water, microclimate and shelter.
Limits to Growth
The 30-Year Update
In 1972, three scientists from MIT created a computer model that analyzed global resource consumption and production. Their results shocked the world and created stirring conversation about global ‘overshoot,’ or resource use beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. Now, preeminent environmental scientists Donnella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows have teamed up again to update and expand their original findings in The Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Global Update.
Meadows, Randers, and Meadows are international environmental leaders recognized for their groundbreaking research into early signs of wear on the planet. Citing climate change as the most tangible example of our current overshoot, the scientists now provide us with an updated scenario and a plan to reduce our needs to meet the carrying capacity of the planet.
Over the past three decades, population growth and global warming have forged on with a striking semblance to the scenarios laid out by the World3 computer model in the original Limits to Growth. While Meadows, Randers, and Meadows do not make a practice of predicting future environmental degradation, they offer an analysis of present and future trends in resource use, and assess a variety of possible outcomes.
In many ways, the message contained in Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a warning. Overshoot cannot be sustained without collapse. But, as the authors are careful to point out, there is reason to believe that humanity can still reverse some of its damage to Earth if it takes appropriate measures to reduce inefficiency and waste.
Written in refreshingly accessible prose, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update is a long anticipated revival of some of the original voices in the growing chorus of sustainability. Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update is a work of stunning intelligence that will expose for humanity the hazy but critical line between human growth and human development.
A Language Older Than Words
At once a beautifully poetic memoir and an exploration of the various ways we live in the world, A Language Older Than Words explains violence as a pathology that touches every aspect of our lives and indeed affects all aspects of life on Earth. This chronicle of a young man’s drive to transcend domestic abuse offers a challenging look at our worldwide sense of community and how we can make things better.
The Culture of Make Believe
Derrick Jensen takes no prisoners in The Culture of Make Believe, his brilliant and eagerly awaited follow-up to his powerful and lyrical A Language Older Than Words. What begins as an exploration of the lines of thought and experience that run between the massive lynchings in early twentieth-century America to today’s death squads in South America soon explodes into an examination of the very heart of our civilization. The Culture of Make Believe is a book that is as impeccably researched as it is moving, with conclusions as far-reaching as they are shocking.
A Cafecito Story / El cuento del cafecito
A Cafecito Story is a story of love, coffee, birds and hope. It is a beautifully written eco-fable by best-selling author Julia Alvarez. Based on her and her husband’s experiences trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, A Cafecito Story shows how the return to the traditional methods of shade-grown coffee can rehabilitate and rejuvenate the landscape and human culture, while at the same time preserving vital winter habitat for threatened songbirds.
Not a political or environmental polemic, A Cafecito Story is instead a poetic, modern fable about human beings at their best. The challenge of producing coffee is a remarkable test of our ability to live more sustainably, caring for the land, growers, and consumers in an enlightened and just way. Written with Julia Alvarez’s deft touch, this is a story that stimulates while it comforts, waking the mind and warming the soul like the first cup of morning coffee. Indeed, this story is best read with a strong cup of organic, shade-grown, fresh-brewed coffee.
The Safari Companion
A Guide to Watching African Mammals Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, and Primates
Since its original publication in 1993, The Safari Companion has been the best field guide to observing and understanding the behavior of African mammals. An indispensable tool for naturalists traveling to Africa, this new edition has been revised to acknowledge the enthusiasm to those watching these magnificent animals at zoos and wildlife parks, and on film.
The Safari Companion enables readers to recognize and interpret visible behavioral activities, such as courtship rituals, territorial marking, aggression, and care of young. Each account of over 80 species includes a behavioral table in which the unique actions of the hoofed mammals, carnivores, and primates are described for easy reference. In addition, useful maps show the major national boundaries, vegetation zones, and game parks relevant to the guide. The book includes an extensive glossary, as well as tips on wildlife photography, a list of organizations working to protect African wildlife, and advice on where and when to see the animals.
The Soul of Soil
A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, 4th Edition
Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.
Now back in print, this eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.
Chapter 2, “Understanding the Soil System,” is alone worth the price of admission. Gershuny and Smillie give lay readers and experts a clear explanation of subjects–soil life and nutrient cycles–that have confounded most authors. Nowhere will the reader find simpler and more coherent descriptions of key concepts including cation exchange capacity and chelation.
There are other books about soil available, including Grace Gershuny’s comprehensive Start with the Soil, and there are books that feature chapters on soil building. What distinguishes The Soil of Soilis the authors’ concise presentation; they give readers important information, including technical essentials, without getting bogged down in scientific or quasiscientific mumbo-jumbo. In addition, useful tables list specific compost materials, green manures, and other resources that allow growers to translate into action the more general information provided by the book.
The soil-building techniques featured include:
- Organic matter management
- Building and maintaining humus
- On-site composting
- Green manures and rotations
- Cultivation and weed control
- Nutrient balances and soil testing
- Using mineral fertilizers
- Planning for organic certification
Updates to the 1999 edition include analysis of Proposed Rules for the National Organic Standards, and expanded recommendations for private testing services and soil-testing equipment for home gardeners and organic farmers.
All of us involved in the cultivation of plants–from the backyard gardener to the largest farmer–need to help regenerate a “living soil,” for only in the diversity of the soil and its creatures can we ensure the long-term health of ourselves and our environment. The Soul of Soil offers everyone a basic understanding of what soil is and what we can do to improve our own patch of it. Seen in this light, this practical handbook will be an inspiration as well.
The Man Who Planted Trees
We have joined the Paul Winter Consort in the release of a CD version of the acclaimed audio of the story by Jean Giono. The original music was composed and is performed by the Paul Winter consort, and the text is narrated by Robert J. Lurtsema, host of “Morning Pro Musica.”
The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape — from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.
The Contrary Farmer
Gene Logsdon has become something of a rabble-rouser in progressive farm circles, stirring up debates and controversies with his popular New Farm Magazine column, The Contrary Farmer. One of Logsdon’s principle contrarieties is the opinion that–popular images of the vanishing American farmer, notwithstanding–greater numbers of people in the U.S. will soon be growing and raising a greater share of their own food than at any time since the last century. Instead of vanishing, more and more farmers will be cottage farming, part-time.
This detailed and personal account of how Logsdon’s family uses the art and science of agriculture to achieve a reasonably happy and ecologically sane way of life in an example for all who seek a sustainable lifestyle. In The Contrary Farmer, Logsdon offers the tried-and-true, practical advice of a manual for the cottage farmer, as well as the subtler delights of a meditation in praise of work and pleasure. The Contrary Farmer will give its readers tools and tenets, but also hilarious commentaries and beautiful evocations of the Ohio countryside that Logsdon knows as his place in the universe.
Loving and Leaving the Good Life
Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of Living the Good Life and many other bestselling books, lived together for 53 years until Scott’s death at age 100. Loving and Leaving the Good Life is Helen’s testimonial to their life together and to what they stood for: self-sufficiency, generosity, social justice, and peace.
In 1932, after deciding it would be better to be poor in the country than in the city, Helen and Scott moved from New York Ciy to Vermont. Here they created their legendary homestead which they described in Living the Good Life: How to Live Simply and Sanely in a Troubled World, a book that has sold 250,000 copies and inspired thousands of young people to move back to the land.
The Nearings moved to Maine in 1953, where they continued their hard physical work as homesteaders and their intense intellectual work promoting social justice. Thirty years later, as Scott approached his 100th birthday, he decided it was time to prepare for his death. He stopped eating, and six weeks later Helen held him and said goodbye.
Loving and Leaving the Good Life is a vivid self-portrait of an independent, committed and gifted woman. It is also an eloquent statement of what it means to grow old and to face death quietly, peacefully, and in control. At 88, Helen seems content to be nearing the end of her good life. As she puts it, “To have partaken of and to have given love is the greatest of life’s rewards. There seems never an end to the loving that goes on forever and ever. Loving and leaving are part of living.”
Helen’s death in 1995 at the age of 92 marks the end of an era. Yet as Helen writes in her remarkable memoir, “When one door closes, another opens.” As we search for a new understanding of the relationships between death and life, this book provides profound insights into the question of how we age and die.