As human populations grow and resources are depleted, agriculture will need to use land, water, and other resources more efficiently and without sacrificing long-term sustainability. Darwinian Agriculture presents an entirely new approach to these challenges, one that draws on the principles of evolution and natural selection.
R. Ford Denison shows how both biotechnology and traditional plant breeding can use Darwinian insights to identify promising routes for crop genetic improvement and avoid costly dead ends. Denison explains why plant traits that have been genetically optimized by individual selection--such as photosynthesis and drought tolerance--are bad candidates for genetic improvement. Traits like plant height and leaf angle, which determine the collective performance of plant communities, offer more room for improvement. Agriculturalists can also benefit from more sophisticated comparisons among natural communities and from the study of wild species in the landscapes where they evolved.
Darwinian Agriculture reveals why it is sometimes better to slow or even reverse evolutionary trends when they are inconsistent with our present goals, and how we can glean new ideas from natural selection's marvelous innovations in wild species.
In this inspiring memoir, Jenna Woginrich reflects on the joys, sorrows, trials, and blessings discovered through a year of homesteading. With eloquent prose, delightful illustrations, and inspiring snippets of poetry, Woginrich revels in the unique charms of each season on the land. Full of poignant observations and fascinating tidbits of farming lore, this book is a heartfelt testament to the deep fulfillment one can find in the practical tasks and timeless rituals of an agricultural life.
A Book of the Month for GQ, The New Yorker, and Flavorwire
"Beautifully told...In this one season of life, Crawford's writing about the work, people, nature and his family legacy reveals much about a simple life, and reminds us all to appreciate life's riches."--Seattle Post Intelligencer
"A must-read..."--Washington Independent Review of Books
An intimate, gorgeously observed memoir about family and farming that forms a powerful lesson in the hard-earned risks that make life worth living
The summer he was thirty-one, Arlo Crawford returned home for the summer harvest at New Morning Farm--seventy-five acres tucked in a hollow in south-central Pennsylvania where his parents had been growing organic vegetables for almost forty years.
Like many summers before, Arlo returned to the family farm's familiar rhythms--rise, eat, bend, pick, sort, sweat, sleep. But this time he was also there to change his direction, like his father years ago. In the 1970s, well before the explosion of the farm-to-table and slow food movement, Arlo's father, Jim, left behind law school and Vietnam, and decided to give farming a try. Arlo's return also prompts a reexamination of a past tragedy: the murder of a neighboring farmer twenty years before. A chronicle of one full season on a farm, with all its small triumphs and inevitable setbacks, A Farm Dies Once a Year is a meditation on work--the true nature of it, and on taking pride in it--and a son's reckoning with a father's legacy. Above all, it is a striking portrait of how one man builds, sows, and harvests his way into a new understanding of the risks necessary to a life well-lived.
Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planetBill McKibben is not a person you'd expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that's where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House. With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, McKibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where McKibben joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry as a whole. Oil and Honey is McKibben's account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight--from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers to climate change. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels of the fight to stop global warming, telling the story of raising one year's honey crop and building a social movement that's still cresting.
When the hail starts to fall, Atina Diffley doesn't compare it to golf balls. She's a farmer. It's "as big as a B-size potato." As her bombarded land turns white, she and her husband Martin huddle under a blanket and reminisce: the one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds; the eleven-inch rainfall ("that broccoli turned out gorgeous"); the hail disaster of 1977. The romance of farming washed away a long time ago, but the love? Never. In telling her story of working the land, coaxing good food from the fertile soil, Atina Diffley reminds us of an ultimate truth: we live in relationships--with the earth, plants and animals, families and communities.
A memoir of making these essential relationships work in the face of challenges as natural as weather and as unnatural as corporate politics, her book is a firsthand history of getting in at the "ground level" of organic farming. One of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest, the Diffleys' Gardens of Eagan helped to usher in a new kind of green revolution in the heart of America's farmland, supplying their roadside stand and a growing number of local food co-ops. This is a story of a world transformed--and reclaimed--one square acre at a time.
And yet, after surviving punishing storms and the devastating loss of fifth-generation Diffley family land to suburban development, the Diffleys faced the ultimate challenge: the threat of eminent domain for a crude oil pipeline proposed by one of the largest privately owned companies in the world, notorious polluters Koch Industries. As Atina Diffley tells her David-versus-Goliath tale, she gives readers everything from expert instruction in organic farming to an entrepreneur's manual on how to grow a business to a legal thriller about battling corporate arrogance to a love story about a single mother falling for a good, big-hearted man.
A moving, graceful elegy for the American farm. --Larry Zuckerman, author of The PotatoNonfiction literature of a high and lasting order . . . Clearing Land, Brox's] third book, parlays the resonantly detailed specifics of life on her immigrant family's farm in Massachusetts into a larger consideration of the meaning of cleared land and its relationship to other iconic locations in the American landscape: wilderness, prairie, mountain, city. Her precise, eloquent prose, wedded to a sensibility that manages to be at once elegiac and hard-minded, strikes unerringly through sentiment and convention to the heart of the matter . . . The result is a deeply affecting conclusion to her trilogy of books about living the consequences of natural process, human desire and the shifting balance between them.
-Carlo Rotella, Chicago Tribune Sings with the joy of life . . . Brox knows farming, but she knows writing even better . . . Clearing Land is a treasure.
-Jules Wagman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Clearing land is the book's guiding metaphor, one that encompasses both time and space, and serves brilliantly to compare the material world and its flux with our attempts to understand it. . . This Brox] does with eloquent melancholy.
-Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe
Put your wooded land to work This comprehensive manual shows you how to use your woodlands to produce everything from wine and mushrooms to firewood and livestock feed. You'll learn how to take stock of your woods; use axes, bow saws, chainsaws, and other key tools; create pasture and silvopasture for livestock; prune and coppice trees to make fuel, fodder, and furniture; build living fencing and shelters for animals; grow fruit trees and berries in a woodland orchard; make syrup from birch, walnut, or boxelder trees; and much more. Whether your property is entirely or only partly wooded, this is the guide you need to make the best use of it.
The planet will be home to more than 9 billion people by 2050, and we're already seeing critical levels of famine around the world mirrored by growing obesity in developed nations. In The Perfect Protein, Andy Sharpless maintains that protecting wild seafood can help combat both issues, because seafood is the healthiest, cheapest, most environmentally friendly source of protein on earth. While the conservation community has taken a simplistic, save-the-whales approach when it comes to oceans, Sharpless contends that we must save the world's seafood not just to protect marine life and biodiversity but to stave off the coming humanitarian crisis.
With high demand for predator species like tuna and salmon, wealthy nations like the U.S. convert "reduction" species such as anchovies, mackerel, and sardines into feed for salmon and other farmed animals--even though these overlooked fish are packed with health-boosting Omega-3 fatty acids and could feed millions. By establishing science-based quotas, protecting wild habitats, and reducing bycatch (and treating anchovies and their like as food, not feed), Sharpless believes that effective ocean stewardship can put healthy, sustainable seafood on the table forever. To that end, Oceana has tapped 20-plus chefs, including Mario Batali, Eric Ripert, and Jose Andres for recipes that give us all a role to play in this revolutionary mission: to save the fish so that we can eat more fish.
Shell Games is a cops-and-robbers tale set in a double-crossing world where smugglers fight turf wars over some of the world's strangest marine creatures.
Puget Sound sits south of the border between the U.S. and Canada and is home to the magnificent geoduck (pronounced "gooey duck"), the world's largest burrowing clam. Comically proportioned but increasingly fashionable as seafood, the geoduck has been the subject of pranks, TV specials, and gourmet feasts. But this shellfish is so valuable it is also traded for millions of dollars on the black market-- a world where outlaw scuba divers dodge cops while using souped-up boats, night-vision goggles, and weighted belts to pluck the succulent treasures from the sea floor. And the greatest dangers come from rival poachers who resort to arson and hit men to eliminate competition and stake their claim in the geoduck market.
Detective Ed Volz spent his life chasing elk-antler thieves, bobcat smugglers, and eagle talon poachers. Now he was determined to find the kingpin of the geoduck underworld. He and a team of federal agents set up illegal sales, secretly recorded conversations, and photographed hand-offs from the bushes. For years, they tracked a rogues' gallery of lawbreakers, who eventually led them to the biggest thief of all-- a darkly charming con man who called himself the "GeoduckGotti" and who worked both sides of the law.
In Shell Games, veteran environmental journalist Craig Welch delves into the wilds of our nation's waters and forests in search of some of America's most unusual criminals and the cops who are on a mission to take them down. This thrilling examination of the international black market for wildlife is filled with butterfly thieves, bear slayers, and shark-trafficking pastors-- all part of one of the largest illegal trades in the world.