Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers
VERY book, I suppose, needs to include some sort of acknowledgement of the multitude of people who were an instrumental influence on its author. Although writing a book may seem like a solitary task, it is not. There may only be one monkey pounding on the keys, but there is a whole host of support behind and around any author as they go through the process of writing and publishing a book.
It would have been impossible on several levels for you to read this book if it wasn’t for my Mom and my Dad. Aside from the obvious, they provided me with an incredibly dynamic way of interacting with the world. My Mom was a displaced Vermont farm girl who taught her children Yankee thrift and ingenuity, how to garden, and more importantly how to cook, can, freeze, pickle, dehydrate and jam just about everything that is edible (and some things that turned outnot to be edible!). My Dad was a displaced Maine woodsman who instilled in his three sons a love of nature, a desire for constant learning, plant identification, and how to piece together a ramshackle tool with little more than bubble gum, duct tape and a generous application of WD-40, and to love the physical exertions of living a rural life. His never-ending planting of food trees, and his (unintentional) neglect of those trees helped me to see perennial plants in a different way than the main stream would.
The forest and the farm are part of who I am and they have become one in restoration agriculture. Indirect inspiration came from many directions, of course, but most significantly J. Russell Smith, Masanobu Fukuoka and Bill Mollison. I may never get to meet Bill Mollison in person, and even if I do I don’t know whether I’d like him or not, but Bill has begun a revolution on this planet in founding the international permaculture movement. Because of his work and charisma, millions of people worldwide have dedicated themselves to earth care, people care and equity. The world is and will be a better place because of Bill Mollison. If nothing else, millions now live lives of meaning and purpose within the wreckage of the industrial, materialistic global economy that has left them behind. More directly I would like to thank all of those who have coached me through the years directly and indirectly and have helped me to come to the point where I would write all this down. To all of the workshop participants, course students, consulting clients and to folks who have come on tours of New Forest Farm, I thank you for helping me to understand that I actually do have something of value to share, and thank you for helping me to hone my message so as to be able to communicate it (I hope!) clearly enough for non-experts to understand. Thank you to Fred Walters, when I was in a challenging phase in my life, for suggesting that I write a book, and thank you for the Acres U.S.A. staff who have helped me through the process. Especially to Anne Van Nest and Maggie Voss, my editors, who have somehow been able to remain calm, level-headed and polite even when I am not. There must be a dark side to them somewhere!
Thank you to my “research team,” the board and staff of the Restoration Agriculture Institute: Peter Allen (Executive Director), Ron Revord, Kevin Wolz and Brandon Angrisani. Thanks for feeding me with the ecological research that confirms my on-the-farm discoveries. Thanks also for reviewing and commenting on the manuscript before sending it off to Acres U.S.A. Thank you also for the ongoing conversations and arguments that have helped to clarify the message, and thank you for working with these systems in your private lives as well as your careers. Special thanks have to go out to Julie Gahn who was my backup during the most challenging chapters of this book. Julie tirelessly researched and compiled all of the nutritional information that is included throughout the book, but especially in the About Nutrition and Nutrition & Perennial Agriculture chapters. The nitty-gritty details of those chapters seemed so unimportant to me at the time compared to the overall system and I never would have survived writing those chapters without Julie keeping me on task. Yippee, we did it, Julie!
Thanks to Anna Lappé, a dynamic and tireless advocate for social justice and sanity in a seemingly insane world. An online recording of Anna giving a presentation to a group of college students where she mentioned New Forest Farm, was the first time that I had ever heard anyone positively acknowledge the work that I have been doing. Thank you Anna for helping me to trust that what restoration agriculture farmers are doing is good, right and a noble occupation. Thank you also for reinforcing my view that food is the central theme and can be the catalyst for the broad changes that need to ripple through all levels of society if humanity is to thrive as a species. We are what we eat and our planet looks like it does because of how we get our food.
One person deserves special recognition here who has been largely behind the scenes at New Forest Farm except at the beginning; Rand Burkert. In a sweaty sauna at 2 a.m. at a permaculture design course in Colorado in 1993, he and I decided to give our thoughts about Permanent Agriculture a form, and to put them into practice. With the initial downpayment from Rand, the land for New Forest Farm was purchased, for which I am forever grateful. Namaste, my friend!
Finally (aside from those whom I have forgotten or intentionally ignored) I would like to thank my immediate family: Erik (who took most of the photographs in this book) and Daniel for growing up so apparently well-adjusted while living with a Dad who, for so many years, could have been considered seriously strange. You two have experienced something that very few people on this planet have. You have seen hundreds of acres of bare dirt and pastures transformed into an abundant food-producing ecological paradise. I hope now that you can see the wisdom of restoration agriculture and its power to change the world. I hope that you will help others to do the same, and will help to convince them how easy the transition can be. You two are the first generation of temperate “mid-succession” restoration agriculture farm managers. I know how to transition from annual crops to perennials, but how will we manage the system for the next 50, 100 or 200 years when I’m gone? You and the next generations will be the ones to learn how. At least we’ve provided you with some resources to work with.
Last on this list, but definitely not least, I have to acknowledge Jen, my best friend, lifemate, lover and companion through thick and through thin. “Wife” is such a small and shallow word for something that is as vast as the entire universe. Thank you for your patience, your forgiveness, your understanding, your encouragement and all of what it is that constitutes LOVE. I may not have a “nice job” and a Porsche; my grubby Carhartts and long sleeve white shirts may have holes in them, but I love you. All of what I do, this book included, points to the fact that I love you, and to the fact that there is some sort of grand mystery unfolding in all of our lives. Behind the outer appearances of this material world, there is an invisible pattern, being or “field.” There are invisible forces finding fulfillment in the visible drama that is life on earth. I stand with the “grand unfolding” and will strive to do my part to take care of The Garden.
1 The Perennial Agriculture Vision
2 Our Present Reality
3 Standing on the Backs of Giants
4 Challenges Facing Agriculture
5 Turning Things Around
6 Farming in Nature’s Image
7 The Steps Toward Restoration Agriculture
8 Other Biomes
9 Livestock & Restoration Agriculture
10 Including Bees
11 About Nutrition
12 Nutrition & Perennial Agriculture
13 Getting Started
14 The Transitional Strategy
15 Managing a Healthy Farm Ecosystem
16 Plant & Animal Breeding
PHOTO TOUR OF NEW FOREST FARM
17 Making a Profit
18 Creating Permanent Agriculture: A Call for New Pioneers
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