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Restoration Agriculture 1st Edition

62 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1601730350
ISBN-10: 1601730357
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Restoration Agriculture + The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach + Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
Price for all three: $68.05

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Acres U.S.A.; 1 edition (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601730357
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601730350
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 87 people found the following review helpful By N. Anderson on February 6, 2013
This work attempts to be an introduction to sustainable farming. The author's assertion (well supported by the evidence he cites) is that our current agricultural model is failing, and that we need to move away from a system built on annual plants, and towards a system built on perennial growth. This is permanent agriculture, or "permaculture". His model for this is an idealized, carefully structured combination of plants, or "polyculture" for food, fuel, and animal forage. In his words: "[w]hat we are doing is designing an agricultural system that closely mimics the savanna in its structure, the species mix, and in ecological function."

This model has been outlined in pieces in other books. Much of his ideas about livestock forage are similar to what Joel Salatin writes, though Shepard is less strident, and more open to the idea of a vegetarian diet. He spends a great deal of time demonstrating with chart and figures how, exactly, a more perennial agricultural model can generate more nutritious calories per acre than the current single crop. But the graphs do not overwhelm.

I was pleased by the concrete examples in the book. Shepard demonstrates, in color pictures and with facts and figures, the viability of a farm based on permaculture principles. He gives tree spacings, plant yields, and grazing techniques. He explains the proper ratio of cows to sheep, for instance. However I was expecting a lot more details regarding plant choices, harvesting techniques, etc. What can be said for Shepard is that he stays on point better than, and is more accessible than, Bill Mollison, who has a tendency to wax philosophical. That said,
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By GregD on May 1, 2013
I have read several permaculture books (Holmgren, Holzer, Hemenway, Jacke, Bane, etc.), and Mark Shepard's 'Restoration Agriculture' is worthy of its subtitle 'Real-World Permaculture for Farmers'. He has combined his hard-nosed practicality from his engineering background with a hefty dose of permacultural idealism to successfully realize his dream of 'New Forest Farm'. Shepard has been doing broad-scale permaculture/agroforestry since the mid 1990's, and has turned an old eroding cornfield into a productive property with fruit trees, nut trees, fruit shrubs, berries, vines, mushrooms, animals, bees, and annual (squash) and perennial (asparagus) vegetables as cash crops to help pay bills until the perennials start bearing more heavily.

Of special interest to me were chapters 11 and 12, in which he deals with questions about the capacity of a perennial agriculture to provide enough calories to feed people. Can 'permaculture' really feed people or must we subsidize the permaculture fantasy with destructive annual tillage and a diet based on annual crops? Shepard admits his figures are a bit rough (yields for polycultures will change as trees mature), but corn produces about 13 million calories per acre annually, and Mr. Shepard suggests that a perennial system with perhaps a few annuals alley-cropped, can produce 6 million calories per acre. He says nutritionally there is simply no comparison between a monocrop of corn and the variety of a perennial system - the nutrition of the perennial system is vastly superior to a corn-based diet.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ben on January 29, 2013
This is the kind of case study the permaculture world has needed for far too long. Mark Shepard explains how he is able to produce more food, reliably and regeneratively on his 100+ acres using trees and grazing as the foundation of his farming system. He is truly working with the way nature wants to work and not "trying to kill what wants to live and keep alive what wants to die" as he cites in this book and his talks. Until now the idea of "farming like the forest" - without needing any off-site fertilizers, pesticides, without spraying, pruning, tilling and over-managing a system which simply needs too much - has been just that, mostly an idea. This book shows how these systems can work in practice by a guy who's been at it for decades. He raises his pigs on chestnuts falling from the forest canopy that he planted. When it rains many inches and the midwest floods, his farm absorbs the storm and no fertility and water run off the farm. Read it and be inspired!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Denise Domning on March 12, 2013
I totally enjoyed this book. Although other reviewers complained that he didn't give specifics about what plants to grow and how to put them in the ground (I mean, seriously guys--you each have a planting zone; he gave you the plant families and how to intermingle them--do your own research), that's not really what I wanted from the book. I wanted to better understand the overarching principles and how I can apply them to my own measly few acres. He more than gave me that information, as well as how it can work with my cows and chickens and, if I can talk my husband into it, pigs. Not only that he gave me ideas and glimmers of ideas on what is possible with what I have. I can run with it from there.

And best of all I now practice the STUN (Sheer, Total, Utter, Neglect) planting method. I love it!
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