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For twelve consecutive months, author Brian Bender lived a nomadic life on small organic farms across the United States. Leaving behind a teaching career, he hopped from farm to farm through an organization called WWOOF: World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Farming Around the Country reveals the humor and hardship of life dominated by a revolving door of farm animals, injuries, eccentric farmers, and unexpected wisdom. The heart of this story lies with the unusual people and tasks on each farm. Bender entered his year of transformation as a high school science teacher and came out educated in the ways of sustainable living and human happiness.
A growing body of evidence shows that agricultural landscapes can be managed not only to produce crops but also to support biodiversity and promote ecosystem health. Innovative farmers and scientists, as well as indigenous land managers, are developing diverse types of "ecoagriculture" landscapes to generate cobenefits for production, biodiversity, and local people. "Farming with Nature" offers a synthesis of the state of knowledge of key topics in ecoagriculture. The book is a unique collaboration among renowned agricultural and ecological scientists, leading field conservationists, and farm and community leaders to synthesize knowledge and experience across sectors. The book examines: the knowledge base for ecoagriculture as well as barriers, gaps, and opportunities for developing improved ecoagriculture systemswhat we have learned about managing landscapes to achieve multiple objectives at a landscape scaleexisting incentives for farmers, other land managers, and investors to develop and invest in ecoagriculture systemspathways to develop, implement, manage, and scale up successful ecoagricultureInsights are drawn from around the world, in tropical, Mediterranean, and temperate environments, from farming systems that range from highly commercialized to semi-subsistence. "Farming with Nature" is an important new work that can serve as a foundation document for planners, farm organizations, researchers, project developers, and policy makers to develop strategies for promoting and sustaining ecoagriculture landscapes. Replete with valuable best practice guidelines, it is a critical resource for both practitioners and researchers in the field.
Once patronized primarily by the counterculture and the health food establishment, the organic food industry today is a multi-billion-dollar business driven by ever-growing consumer demand for safe food and greater public awareness of ecological issues. Assumed by many to be a recent phenomenon, that industry owes much to agricultural innovations that go back to the Dust Bowl era. This book explores the roots and branches of alternative agricultural ideas in twentieth-century America, showing how ecological thought has challenged and changed agricultural theory, practice, and policy from the 1930s to the present. It introduces us to the people and institutions who forged alternatives to industrialized agriculture through a deep concern for the enduring fertility of the soil, a passionate commitment to human health, and a strong advocacy of economic justice for farmers. Randal Beeman and James Pritchard show that agricultural issues were central to the rise of the environmental movement in the United States. As family farms failed during the Depression, a new kind of agriculture was championed based on the holistic approach taught by the emerging science of ecology. Ecology influenced the "permanent agriculture" movement that advocated such radical concepts as long-term land use planning, comprehensive soil conservation, and organic farming. Then in the 1970s, "sustainable agriculture" combined many of these ideas with new concerns about misguided technology and an over-consumptive culture to preach a more sensible approach to farming. In chronicling the overlooked history of alternative agriculture, A Green and Permanent Land records the significant contributions of individuals like RexTugwell, Hugh Bennett, Louis Bromfield, Edward Faulkner, Russell and Kate Lord, Scott and Helen Nearing, Robert Rodale, Wes Jackson, and groups like Friends of the Land and the Practical Farmers of Iowa. And by demonstrating how agriculture also remains central to the public interest-especially in the face of climatic crises, genetically altered crops, and questionable uses of pesticides-this book puts these issues in historical perspective and offers readers considerable food for thought.
The current growth of organic farming is being fuelled by market demand. Nicolas Lampkin's book spells out both the principles underlying organic farming and the practical ways in which farmers can respond. He is particularly concerned with the economics of organic farming - a key point for farmers thinking of converting their land. The first part of his book spells out the principles: soil structure, crop nutrition, management of wastes, rotation design, weed management, pest and disease control, livestock husbandry. In the second part he goes into practical details for livestock systems, grassland and fodder crops, arable and horticultural crops, marketing and processing, physical and financial performance, and the conversion process. Some of the evidence on food quality and environmental impact is also reviewed. This is a guide to a way of farming which aims to be in partnership with the natural world rather than dominating it.