From Publishers Weekly
This page-turner for nature lovers will captivate readers who have harbored fantasies of moving back to the land and who will appreciate its mingling of environmental theory, policy prescription and vivid personal anecdote. Inspired by Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac
, Apfelbaum, founder and president of Applied Ecological Services, dreamt of a home that would allow me... to become deeply involved with the land, where I could live simply. He founded Stone Prairie Farm in southern Wisconsin on 80 acres, surrounded by cornfields, farm machinery and grazing cattle. The book relates the 30-year adventure of restoring the farm to prairie, following the author as he befriends the neighbors and finds a mate. With her, he gathers native seeds by bicycle, engages in controlled—and some not-so-controlled—burning, negotiates with hunters and gardeners as the land becomes a prime spot for deer and wild turkeys, and inspires his local community, as well as the reader, to consider a more ecologically friendly and spiritually satisfying relationship with the land. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Ecologist Apfelbaum wanted to put into practice what he learned about restoring damaged ecosystems on land of his own. He purchased a 150-year-old farmhouse and eventually, thanks to the success of his visionary consulting business, Applied Ecological Services, acquired 80 acres of southern Wisconsin farmland. By dint of ardent research and relentless hard work, Apfelbaum and his partner, Susan Marie Lehnhardt, transformed land long depleted by corn crops, pesticides, and invasive species into a thriving prairie resplendent with wildflowers and resurgent birds, butterflies, and wildlife. Part treatise on ecological restoration—with fascinating forays into the history of the Midwest, Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, the role of fire in prairie ecosystems, and the damage done by industrialized, monoculture farming—this utterly compelling tale is also an eco-memoir. By revealing his struggles, missteps, and fears, and telling stories about the evolving understanding of his initially skeptical neighbors, Apfelbaum shares the deeply emotional dimension of his commitment to native species and land restoration, arousing, in turn, the reader’s own feeling for place. Apfelbaum’s book is as rich in farming adventure, environmental ideas, and profound insights as a restored prairie is rich in life and beauty. --Donna Seaman