Daily Archives: March 24, 2016

The Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Processes, and Practices (Advances in Agroecology): Stephen R. Gliessman, Martha Rosemeyer

With all of the environmental and social problems confronting our food systems today, it is apparent that none of the strategies we have relied on in the past―higher-yielding varieties, increased irrigation, inorganic fertilizers, pest damage reduction―can be counted on to come to the rescue. In fact, these solutions are now part of the problem. It is becoming quite clear that the only way to keep the food crisis from escalating is to promote the conversion processes that will move agriculture to sustainability.

Under the editorial guidance of agroecology experts Martha Rosemeyer and the internationally renowned Dr. Stephen R. Gliessman, The Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Processes, and Practices establishes a framework for how this conversion can be accomplished and presents case studies from around the world that illustrate how the process is already underway. The book provides a four-stage transition process for achieving sustainability and an in-depth analysis of the global efforts to make farms more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

An international team of chapter contributors explores ways to lessen dependency on fossil fuels and pesticides, and examines each step in the conversion process. They also describe the process of monitoring change toward sustainable agriculture while integrating social and economic analysis within scientific practices. Serving as both a core textbook for students and a comprehensive reference for agricultural practitioners, this volume is a valuable resource for the change that is needed in our food system now and in the future.

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The Bio-Integrated Farm: A Revolutionary Permaculture-Based System Using Greenhouses, Ponds, Compost Piles, Aquaponics, Chickens, and More: Shawn Jadrnicek, Stephanie Jadrnicek

The Bio-Integrated Farm is a twenty-first-century manual for managing nature’s resources. This groundbreaking book brings “system farming” and permaculture to a whole new level. Author Shawn Jadrnicek presents new insights into permaculture, moving beyond the philosophical foundation to practical advanced designs based on a functional analysis. Holding his designs to a higher standard, Jadrnicek’s components serve at least seven functions (classical permaculture theory only seeks at least two functions). With every additional function a component performs, the design becomes more advanced and saves more energy.

A bio-integrated greenhouse, for example, doesn’t just extend the season for growing vegetables; it also serves as a rainwater collector, a pond site, an aquaponics system, and a heat generator. Jadrnicek’s prevalent theme is using water to do the work. Although applicable in many climates, his designs are particularly important for areas coping with water scarcity.

Jadrnicek focuses on his experience as farm manager at the Clemson University Student Organic Farm and at his residence in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These locations lie at the cooler northern edge of a humid subtropical climate that extends west to the middle of Texas and north along the coast to New Jersey. He has created permaculture patterns ranging from raising transplants and field design to freshwater prawn production and composting. These patterns have simplified the operation of the 125-share CSA farm while reducing reliance on outside resources. In less time than it takes to mow his two-acre homestead, Jadrnicek is building a you-pick fruit farm using permaculture patterns. His landscape requires only the labor of harvesting, and the only outside input he buys is a small amount of chicken feed. By carefully engaging the free forces of nature―water, wind, sunlight, convection, gravity, and decomposition―Jadrnicek creates sustenance without maintenance and transforms waste into valuable farm resources.

The Bio-Integrated Farm offers in-depth information about designing and building a wide range of bio-integrated projects including reflecting ponds, water-storage ponds, multipurpose basins, greenhouses, compost heat extraction, pastured chicken systems, aquaculture, hydroponics, hydronic heating, water filtration and aeration, cover cropping, and innovative rainwater-harvesting systems that supply water for drip irrigation and flushing toilets.

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Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre: Jenni Blackmore

Many of us want to increase our self-sufficiency, but few have access to the ideal five sunny, gently sloping acres of rich, loamy, well-drained soil. Jenni Blackmore presents a highly entertaining, personal account of how permaculture can be practiced in adverse conditions, allowing anyone to learn to live more sustainably in a less-than-perfect world. With a rallying cry of “If we can do it, you can too,” she distills the wisdom of twenty years of trial and error into a valuable teaching tool.

The perfect antidote to dense, high-level technical manuals, Permaculture for the Rest of Us presents the fundamental principles of this sometimes confusing concept in a humorous, reader-friendly way. Each chapter focuses on a specific method or technique, interspersing straightforward explanations with the author’s own experiences. Learn how to successfully retrofit even the smallest homestead using skills such as:

No-till vs. till gardening, composting, and soil-building Natural pest control and integrating small livestock Basic greenhouse construction Harvesting, preservation, and more

Ideal for urban dreamers, suburbanites and country-dwellers alike, this inspirational and instructional “encouragement manual” is packed with vibrant photographs documenting the author’s journey from adversity to abundance.

Jenni Blackmore is a farmer, artist, writer and certified Permaculture Design Consultant who built her house on a rocky, windswept island off the coast of Nova Scotia almost twenty-five years ago and has been stumbling along the road to self-sufficient living ever since. A successful micro-farmer, she produces most of her family’s meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables, in spite of often-challenging conditions.

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The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet: Kristin Ohlson

Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices―and, especially, modern industrial agriculture―have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world’s soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist

and bestselling author Kristin Ohlson makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for “our great green hope”―a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon―and potentially reverse global warming.

As the granddaughter of farmers and the daughter of avid gardeners, Ohlson has long had an appreciation for the soil. A chance conversation with a local chef led her to the crossroads of science, farming, food, and environmentalism and the discovery of the only significant way to remove carbon dioxide from the air―an ecological approach that tends not only to plants and animals but also to the vast population of underground microorganisms that fix carbon in the soil. Ohlson introduces the visionaries―scientists, farmers, ranchers, and landscapers―who are figuring out in the lab and on the ground how to build healthy soil, which solves myriad problems: drought, erosion, air and water pollution, and food quality, as well as climate change. Her discoveries and vivid storytelling will revolutionize the way we think about our food, our landscapes, our plants, and our relationship to Earth.

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The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security: Eric Toensmeier, Dr. Hans Herren

Agriculture is rightly blamed as a major culprit of our climate crisis. But in this groundbreaking new book, Eric Toensmeier argues that agriculture―specifically, the subset of practices known as “carbon farming”―can, and should be, a linchpin of a global climate solutions platform.

Carbon farming is a suite of agricultural practices and crops that sequester carbon in the soil and in aboveground biomass. Combined with a massive reduction in fossil fuel emissions―and in concert with adaptation strategies to our changing environment― carbon farming has the potential to bring us back from the brink of disaster and return our atmosphere to the “magic number” of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Toensmeier’s book is the first to bring together these powerful strategies in one place, including in-depth analysis of the available research and, where research is lacking, a discussion of what it will take to get us there.

Carbon farming can take many forms. The simplest practices involve modifications to annual crop production. Although many of these modifications have relatively low sequestration potential, they are widely applicable and easily adopted, and thus have excellent potential to mitigate climate change if practiced on a global scale. Likewise, grazing systems such as silvopasture are easily replicable, don’t require significant changes to human diet, and―given the amount of agricultural land worldwide that is devoted to pasture―can be important strategies in the carbon farming arsenal. But by far, agroforestry practices and perennial crops present the best opportunities for sequestration. While many of these systems are challenging to establish and manage, and would require us to change our diets to new and largely unfamiliar perennial crops, they also offer huge potential that has been almost entirely ignored by climate crusaders.

Many of these carbon farming practices are already implemented globally on a scale of millions of hectares. These are not minor or marginal efforts, but win-win solutions that provide food, fodder, and feedstocks while fostering community self-reliance, creating jobs, protecting biodiversity, and repairing degraded land―all while sequestering carbon, reducing emissions, and ultimately contributing to a climate that will remain amenable to human civilization. Just as importantly to a livable future, these crops and practices can contribute to broader social goals such as women’s empowerment, food sovereignty, and climate justice.

The Carbon Farming Solution does not present a prescription for how cropland should be used and is not, first and foremost, a how-to manual, although following up on references in a given section will frequently provide such information. Instead, The Carbon Farming Solution is―at its root―a toolkit. It is the most complete collection of climate-friendly crops and practices currently available. With this toolkit, farmers, communities, and governments large and small, can successfully launch carbon farming projects with the most appropriate crops and practices to their climate, locale, and socioeconomic needs.

Toensmeier’s ultimate goal is to place carbon farming firmly in the center of the climate solutions platform, alongside clean solar and wind energy. With The Carbon Farming Solution, Toensmeier wants to change the discussion, impact policy decisions, and steer mitigation funds to the research, projects, and people around the world who envision a future where agriculture becomes the protagonist in this fraught, urgent, and unprecedented drama of our time. Citizens, farmers, and funders will be inspired to use the tools presented in this important new book to transform degraded lands around the world into productive carbon-storing landscapes.

Website: carbonfarmingsolution.com

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Labor and the Locavore: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic: Margaret Gray

In the blizzard of attention around the virtues of local food production, food writers and activists place environmental protection, animal welfare, and saving small farms at the forefront of their attention. Yet amid this turn to wholesome and responsible food choices, the lives and working conditions of farmworkers are often an afterthought.

Labor and the Locavore focuses on one of the most vibrant local food economies in the country, the Hudson Valley that supplies New York restaurants and farmers markets. Based on more than a decade’s in-depth interviews with workers, farmers, and others, Gray’s examination clearly shows how the currency of agrarian values serves to mask the labor concerns of an already hidden workforce.

She also explores the historical roots of farmworkers’ predicaments and examines the ethnic shift from Black to Latino workers. With an analysis that can be applied to local food concerns around the country, this book challenges the reader to consider how the mentality of the alternative food movements implies a comprehensive food ethic that addresses workers’ concerns.

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The Emergent Agriculture: Farming, Sustainability and the Return of the Local Economy: Gary Kleppel, John Ikerd

Long embraced by corporations who are driven only by the desire for profit, industrial agriculture wastes precious resources and spews millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year, exacerbating climate change and threatening the very earth and water on which we depend. However, this dominant system, from which Americans obtain most of their food, is being slowly supplanted by a new paradigm.

The Emergent Agriculture is a collection of fourteen thematic essays on sustainability viewed through the lens of farming. Arguing that industrial food production is incompatible with the realities of nature, science, and ethics, this lyrical narrative makes the case for a locally based food system which is:

  • Stable in the face of economic uncertainty
  • Resilient in the face of environmental variability
  • Grounded in stewardship of the land, on attaching value to food and the craft involved in producing it, and on respecting the dignity of farmers, consumer,s and livestock

A revolution in food production is underway. Written from the vantage point of an ecologist who is also a farmer, The Emergent Agriculture is essential reading for anyone interested in food security and the potential for growing local economies. Food for thought about the future of food.

Gary Kleppel is a professor of biology at the SUNY Albany, where he focuses on sustainable agriculture, conservation-based grazing, and the ecology of human-dominated landscapes. He and his wife Pam are owners of Longfield Farm, where they produce grass-fed lamb, wool, free range chickens and eggs, and artisanal breads.

Food-Matters
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Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate: Laura Lengnick

Climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to the productivity and profitability of agriculture in North America. More variable weather, drought, and flooding create the most obvious damage, but hot summer nights, warmer winters, longer growing seasons, and other environmental changes have more subtle but far-reaching effects on plant and livestock growth and development.

Resilient Agriculture recognizes the critical role that sustainable agriculture will play in the coming decades and beyond. The latest science on climate risk, resilience, and climate change adaptation is blended with the personal experience of farmers and ranchers to explore:

  • The “strange changes” in weather recorded over the last decade
  • The associated shifts in crop and livestock behavior
  • The actions producers have taken to maintain productivity in a changing climate

The climate change challenge is real and it is here now. To enjoy the sustained production of food, fiber, and fuel well into the twenty-first century, we must begin now to make changes that will enhance the adaptive capacity and resilience of North American agriculture. The rich knowledge base presented in Resilient Agriculture is poised to serve as the cornerstone of an evolving, climate-ready food system.

Laura Lengnick is a researcher, policymaker, activist, educator, and farmer whose work explores the community-enhancing potential of agriculture and food systems. She directs the academic program in sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson College and was a lead author of the report Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation.

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals: Michael Pollan

Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves? The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explains in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, as the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species. Packed with profound surprises, The Omnivore’s Dilemma is changing the way Americans thing about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating.

Food-Matters
Global Climate Change
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Agroecology: The Science Of Sustainable Agriculture, Second Edition: Miguel A Altieri

This new edition builds on the explosion of research on sustainable agriculture since the late 1980s. By separating myth from reality, Miguel Altieri extracts the key principles of sustainable agriculture and expounds on management systems that “really work.” Providing case studies of sustainable rural development in developing countries, he goes beyond a mere description of practices to include data that reveal the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of alternative projects.Each chapter of Agroecology has been enriched and updated with the latest research results from around the world. New emphasis has been placed on such issues as the ecological economics of agriculture, policy changes needed for promoting sustainable agriculture, rural development in the Third World, the role of biodiversity in agriculture, and new research methodologies.

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