This book has been written by a practical and innovative permaculturist with the benefit of time spent ‘staying’ in one place. (In fact he writes that ‘staying seems to be one of the key ingredients to a resilient and adaptive culture’.) As a result Ben Falk has written a book filled with things that he has done, rather than information that he has gleaned from other sources, and it shows. All of the way through the book I found myself saying ‘Yes’ or ‘I agree’. One example was the idea that the Primary Limiting Factor on a larger sized plot is people: the time, labour, and awareness needed for development and maintenance of a site. Others included the observation that larger sites need to be more simple than smaller ones, and that a well-managed small plot will produce more food than a much larger farm which is run poorly.
The book has lots of useful and practical content. There are chapters on the Design Process and Site Establishment, Water and Earthworks, Fertility Harvesting and Cycling, Food Crops, Fuel and Shelter, as well as Resilience and Regeneration. All contain useful ‘how to’ information, whilst avoiding repeating information for which there are other good sources. One of the highlights for me was seeing pictures and reading about rice production in a cold climate. This has sparked off a desire to do the same. There is also an excellent section on swales, with good diagrams.
Even though the ‘how to’ information was useful, what I loved most about the book was the attitude that the author manages to convey through the pages. I marked dozens of sections of text for quotes. Be adaptable, try stuff to see what works, be open to all of the possible outcomes of an action, rather than cling to the one that you expected. I thought that I would let the words of the author end this review in the way that they end the book.
“You already have what you need to enliven your own place and your own life. Inaction quickly consumes a lifetime. Be curious, be bold, pay close attention to the world in front of you. And start trying stuff.”
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