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Restoration Agriculture 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1601730350
ISBN-10: 1601730357
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  • Restoration Agriculture
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  • The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach
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  • Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
Total price: $69.85
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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 (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Comment 54 of 54 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is fine in its diagnosis of the problems surrounding current industrial agricultural practices. But it falls down on providing adequate description of the technical aspects of the development of the author's farm and current farm operations. If you are already familiar with the issues in industrial agriculture and basic permaculure and holistic management ideas and looking for more technical application, this is not the book you are looking for.
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First of all, Mark's ideas are exciting, if they worked as a replacement for today's agriculture. He puts forth the idea that these crops can replace current American agriculture. But he does not support it with ANY hard facts of anyone doing it profitably and supporting a family using these ideas. I think of agriculture as being an avocation as opposed to a hobby. Mark spends 23 pages in his Making A Profit chapter without ever saying that he is making a profit in his own operation, or citing anyone else who is. Lots of "if" and "could" and "may". Lots of theory, but no actual results. He actually denigrates people who think that a farm should be able to support a household, citing that traditional farms usually have off farm income. I guess this is to justify that his plan can't support a household either.
This was a frustrating book because I would love nothing more than to implement these ideas and make my living from my farm this way. But the liberal arguments about conventional ag, citing "scientists" whom I believe to be mere political hacks, undermined his credibility. His use of emotional arguments and lack of any hard information about anyone doing this profitably was disappointing. I found myself writing corrections to his faulty logic in the margins. It was frustrating to see the many problems in his presentation. Especially since I WANT him to be correct and for it to be true that this could replace conventional agriculture. But he did not prove his point.
This book has lots of useful information about growing perennial crops. Despite it's many problems, it is very much worth reading and owning. It is a visionary book, but not a practical guide for someone who wants to farm profitably this way.
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