Here are a few books I’ve read that most influence how I garden, and how I live. Like most good books, they are worth reading even if you are not a gardener.
The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
This is the story of how a Japanese plant scientist walked away from his career and everything he knew about the world and became a rice farmer. Over the decades he developed a system of cropping without tilling the soil or using pesticides and herbicides and called it ‘do nothing farming’. Its beautiful.
In 1962, three adults and three children found themselves living in Findhorn caravan park on the wind swept coast of Scotland. Unable to find work, they built a garden and stayed positive, trusting that there was a reason why they found themselves in that predicament. Despite the sandy soil and salt laden winds their garden grew spectacularly well and the giant cabbages and perfect lettuces soon attracted the attention of others who begged them for the secret. Today Findhorn is a thriving Eco village and centre of learning and if you don’t know the secret you must read this book.
Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis.
I used to think that when I fed the soil I was feeding the plants. Wrong. The soil biology feeds the plants. When we farm, we should be farming microbes; everything that happens is down to them and understanding what is happening in the soils changes the paradigm in which we garden. This took me beyond organics and its a really good read.
A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen
Its hard to on one hand live with the horrendous things humanity has done and continues to do to nature, and on the other hand be filled with the wonder and beauty of being alive. This book shows how its done.
The relationship between climate change, the economy, social justice, inequality and indigenous rights is complex, but this is the master work that shows that we have to fix all of it and make life better for us all, or we don’t stand a chance.
Joel Salatin is a no-nonsense farmer who tells it out like he sees it: how we live and produce food ain’t normal. He talks about the farming tradition he was raised in and the obstacles he has been facing to carry on his traditions on his diverse family farm, Polyface Farm. He’s a lot of fun and he doesn’t hide himself behind prose or romantic imagery and spells out how crazy our industrial farming methods are.