VT Book Club

Interested in Sustainable Living and Agriculture? Join our Book Club in Townshend, Vermont.

Field House Eco-Farm and Learning Center,  1st Mondays,   6-8pm,  1276 Windham Hill Rd.

West Townshend    Hope to see you there!  

 
June, 2017

TBD

May 1, 2017

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Sacred Activism) by Charles Eisenstein

worldIn a time of social and ecological crisis, what can we as individuals do to make the world a better place? This inspirational and thought-provoking book serves as an empowering antidote to the cynicism, frustration, paralysis, and overwhelm so many of us are feeling, replacing it with a grounding reminder of what’s true: we are all connected, and our small, personal choices bear unsuspected transformational power. By fully embracing and practicing this principle of interconnectedness—called interbeing—we become more effective agents of change and have a stronger positive influence on the world.
Throughout the book, Eisenstein relates real-life stories showing how small, individual acts of courage, kindness, and self-trust can change our culture’s guiding narrative of separation, which, he shows, has generated the present planetary crisis. He brings to conscious awareness a deep wisdom we all innately know: until we get our selves in order, any action we take—no matter how good our intentions—will ultimately be wrongheaded and wronghearted. Above all, Eisenstein invites us to embrace a radically different understanding of cause and effect, sounding a clarion call to surrender our old worldview of separation, so that we can finally create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

With chapters covering separation, interbeing, despair, hope, pain, pleasure, consciousness, and many more, the book invites us to let the old Story of Separation fall away so that we can stand firmly in a Story of Interbeing.

April, 2017
March 6, 2017

14211421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies

On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to “proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas.” When the fleet returned home in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.

January 30, 2017

Treating Dairy Cows Naturally: Thoughts & Strategies by Hubert J. Karremandairy

With much thought and research, Dr. Karreman describes how cows can be treated for a wide variety of problems with plant-derived and biological medicines. Drawing upon veterinary treatments from before synthetic pharmaceuticals, and tempering them with modern knowledge and clinical experience, Dr. Karreman bridges the world of natural treatments with life in the barn in a rational and easy-to-understand way. In describing treatments for common dairy cow diseases, he covers practical aspects of biologics, botanical medicines, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture and conventional medicine. This book should serve as a useful reference for years to come.

January 2, 2017 

Agriculture: Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture by Rudolf Steineragriculture

With this remarkable series of lectures presented in Koberwitz, Silesia, June 7-16, 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded biodynamic agriculture. They contain profound insights into farming, the plant and animal world, the nature of organic chemistry, and the influences of heavenly bodies. This translation from the original German by Catherine E. Creeger and Malcolm Gardner is a fundamental text for many intermediate and advanced students of biodynamic agriculture ― one to which the biodynamic practitioner will refer again and again over the years. In addition to the eight lectures, this version includes four discussions by Steiner, color plates of Steiner’s chalk drawings, the address to the members of the Agricultural Experimental Circle, Steiner’s report to members of the Anthroposophical Society after the lectures, Steiner’s handwritten notes to the Agriculture Course, further agricultural indications given by Steiner, and “New Directions in Agriculture,” by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (a colleague of Steiner’s who brought biodynamic agriculture to North America).

December 15, 2016 (3rd Thursday)

The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities by Didi Pershouse

What can Cuban doctors, innovative ranchers in Saskatchewan, and the cowmicrobiome teach us about how to care for people and the Earth at the same time?
In this richly layered book, Didi Pershouse takes us on a fast-moving, sharp-witted journey through her own life: from growing up with the neurosurgeon who accidentally discovered the seat of memory in the brain, to working in a smoke-filled office at New York magazine, to her career as an innovative acupuncturist in Vermont, and on to a passion for close-knit communities, grazing cows, and soil restoration as solutions to much of what ails us. Along the way, she unfolds a surprising new take on the story of our time: how the germ theory of disease joined with a profit-based economy, and unwittingly led to a “sterilization” of medicine, agriculture, and even our social lives. This 150-year detour has brought about the near destruction of our climate as well as a great forgetting of the power of connection. By documenting a scientific understanding of the intelligence of the whole, Pershouse nudges us awake with a hopeful view and shows us how to reclaim the rich, “fertile” lives we are meant for.

November 7, 2016 (1st Monday)

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

In thi1491s groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.

October 3, 2016 (1st Monday)

The Mad Farmer Poems by Wendell Berry

mad-farmerDuring the otherwise quiet course of his life as a poet, Wendell Berry has become “mad” at what contemporary society has made of its land, its communities, and its past. This anger reaches its peak in the poems of the Mad Farmer, an open-ended sequence he’s found himself impelled to continue against his better instincts. These poems can take the shape of manifestos, meditations, insults, Whitmanic fits and ravings-these are often funny in spite of themselves. The Mad Farmer is a character as necessary, perhaps, as he is regrettable.

We have here gathered the individual poems from Berry’s various collections to offer the teachings and bitcheries of this amazing American voice. After the great success of the lovely Window Poems, Bob Baris of the Press on Scroll Road, returns to design and produce an edition illustrated with etchings by Abigail Rover. His hand-press pages will be off-set for our trade edition.

Ed McClanahan offers an introduction wherein he clears up the inspiration behind the Mad Farmer himself. McClanahan also manages to take more credit than he is clearly due. Then Berry weighs in with an apology-and characteristic exaggeration. James Baker Hall and William Kloefkorn offer poems here that also show how the Mad Farmer has escaped into the work of others.

The whole is a wonderful testimony to the power of anger and humor to bring even the most terrible consequences into a focus otherwise impossible to obtain.

September
Vacation  : )
August 2016
The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach
by Ben FalkMThe 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.
July 2016

Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind by Gene Logsdon

In his insightful new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure-our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure-worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value-but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.

With his trademark humor, his years of experience writing about both farming and waste management, and his uncanny eye for the small but important details, Logsdon artfully describes how to manage farm manure, pet manure and human manure to make fertilizer and humus. He covers the field, so to speak, discussing topics like:

  • How to select the right pitchfork for the job and use it correctly
  • How to operate a small manure spreader
  • How to build a barn manure pack with farm animal manure
  • How to compost cat and dog waste
  • How to recycle toilet water for irrigation purposes, and
  • How to get rid ourselves of our irrational paranoia about feces and urine.

Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.

June 2016the sweetness

The Sweetness of a Simple Life: Tips for Healthier, Happier and Kinder Living from a Visionary Natural Scientist by Diane Beresford-Kroeger

 In The Sweetness of a Simple Life, Diana Beresford-Kroeger mixes science with storytelling, wonderment, magic, myth and plenty of common sense. Orphaned at an early age, Beresford-Kroeger was tutored by elderly relatives in Ireland in the Druidic tradition, taught the overlap between the arts and sciences, and the triad of body, mind and spirit. After pursuing a Ph.D. in medical biochemistry, Beresford-Kroeger set out on a quest to preserve the world’s forests. In this warm and wise collection of essays, she gives us a guide for living simply and well: which foods to eat and which to avoid; how to clean our homes and look after pets; how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from illness; and why we need to appreciate nature. She provides an easy dose of healing, practical wisdom, blending modern medicine with aboriginal traditions. This inspiring, accessible book emphasizes back to basics, with the touchstone not an exotic religion or meditation practice, but the natural world around us.

May 2016

The Forested Landscape by

April 201651GIOlTNiSL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: A Cultivator’s Guide to Small-Scale Organic Herb Production by Peg Schafer

A leading light in the field of medicinal herb cultivation, The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm is the first cultivation guide of its kind, and presents invaluable information for growers interested in producing high-quality efficacious herbs in all climates of the US, with the historical connectedness of ancient practitioners.

It has become increasingly important-especially as the market for herbal medicine continues to grow-that we transition to local and domestic medicinal cultivation. Increasingly there are concerns in regards to not only the quality but the purity of imported herbs, and wild herbs picked for medicinal purposes are ever more endangered than in past years both at home and abroad.

Peg Schafer, longtime grower and teacher, guides readers with information on propagating, cultivating, and harvesting Chinese herbs, and presents fascinating new scientific data that reveal the age-old wisdom of nature and the traditional systems of Chinese medicine. Through 79 detailed herb profiles–all tested and trialed on Schafer’s certified organic farm-Schafer offers easy-to-follow information, suitable for both growers and practitioners, for growing efficacious wild-simulated herbs. Also included is important information on species conservation, crop integration, and how to avoid the introduction of invasive species. Sidebars on traditional medicinal uses for each herb and delicious recipes are also featured throughout.

Vegetable and CSA farmers will find this book of great interest for adding value-added crops to their repertoire, and beginner growers looking to incorporate medicinals into their gardens will find this an invaluable guide to understanding where herbal medicine comes from, and will make eating-your-medicine more accessible than ever.

March 2016

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets51cym7vLReL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Mycelium Running is a manual for the mycological rescue of the planet. That’s right: growing more mushrooms may be the best thing we can do to save the environment, and in this groundbreaking text from mushroom expert Paul Stamets, you’ll find out how.

The basic science goes like this: Microscopic cells called “mycelium”–the fruit of which are mushrooms–recycle carbon, nitrogen, and other essential elements as they break down plant and animal debris in the creation of rich new soil. What Stamets has discovered is that we can capitalize on mycelium’s digestive power and target it to decompose toxic wastes and pollutants (mycoremediation), catch and reduce silt from streambeds and pathogens from agricultural watersheds (mycofiltration), control insect populations (mycopesticides), and generally enhance the health of our forests and gardens (mycoforestry and myco-gardening).

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find chapters detailing each of these four exciting branches of what Stamets has coined “mycorestoration,” as well as chapters on the medicinal and nutritional properties of mushrooms, inoculation methods, log and stump culture, and species selection for various environmental purposes. Heavily referenced and beautifully illustrated, this book is destined to be a classic reference for bemushroomed generations to come.

February 2016holistic

The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way by Michael Phillips.

Many people want to grow fruit on a small scale but lack the insight to be successful orchardists. Growing tree fruits and berries is something virtually anyone with space and passionate desire can do – given wise guidance and a personal commitment to observe the teachings of the trees. A holistic grower knows that producing fruit is not about manipulating nature but more importantly, fostering nature. Orcharding then becomes a fascinating adventure sure to provide your family with all sorts of mouth-watering fruit.

The Holistic Orchard demystifies the basic skills everybody should know about the inner-workings of the orchard ecosystem, as well as orchard design, soil biology, and organic health management. Detailed insights on grafting, planting, pruning, and choosing the right varieties for your climate are also included, along with a step-by-step instructional calendar to guide growers through the entire orchard year. The extensive profiles of pome fruits (apples, pears, asian pears, quinces), stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums), and berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, and elderberries) will quickly have you savoring the prospects.

Phillips completely changed the conversation about healthy orcharding with his first bestselling book, The Apple Grower, and now he takes that dialogue even further, drawing connections between home orcharding and permaculture; the importance of native pollinators; the world of understory plantings with shade-tolerant berry bushes and other insectary plants; detailed information on cover crops and biodiversity; and the newest research on safe, homegrown solutions to pest and disease challenges.

All along the way, Phillips’ expertise and enthusiasm for healthy growing shines through, as does his ability to put the usual horticultural facts into an integrated ecology perspective. This book will inspire beginners as well as provide deeper answers for experienced fruit growers looking for scientific organic approaches. Exciting times lie ahead for those who now have every reason in the world to confidently plant that very first fruit tree!

January 2016