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Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (Conservation Classics) Paperback – December 1, 1987

ISBN-13: 978-0933280441 ISBN-10: 0933280440 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Conservation Classics
  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1st edition (December 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0933280440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0933280441
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

J. Russell Smith is a member of the Northern Nut Growers' Association. More than a hundred members of the Association contributed detailed reports of their own experiments.


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Customer Reviews

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Too often in this kind of book you read bare assertions without data.
N. Anderson
There are other problems with the kindle version such as splits between the top and bottom of the page.
Rusty
Joseph was a brilliant visionary, and one day he received an illuminating revelation.
Richard Reese (author of Sustainable or Bust)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Richard Reese (author of Sustainable or Bust) on October 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
Joseph Russell Smith (1874-1966) was a geography professor who grew up in the chestnut forests of Virginia. His book Tree Crops was originally published in 1929. Smith wrote it because he was horrified by the soil destruction caused by regularly tilling cropland -- and hillside tilling drove him completely out of his mind, because it permanently destroyed good land at a much faster rate. Everyone knew this, but they kept doing it anyway, because they were cursed with a short-term mindset.

Tilling was a common practice in those days (and it's still popular today). Farmers tilled because their daddies tilled, and their grandpas tilled, and their great-grandpas tilled in the old country. It was a powerful dirty habit that was nearly impossible to quit, until the land died -- and it provided no long-term benefits! With great exasperation, Smith exclaimed: "Corn, the killer of continents, is one of the worst enemies of the human future!"

Old World crops like wheat, barley, rye, and oats provided a dense ground cover that slowed the rate of soil erosion a bit. New World crops like corn, potatoes, cotton, and tobacco were row crops that left the tilled soil exposed, and more vulnerable to erosion. In America, thunderstorms were common, producing downpours that were rare in Europe. Heavy rains filled the streams with lost topsoil. In the Cotton Belt, Smith saw erosion gullies that were 150 feet deep. Oklahoma was ruined with stunning speed. We were destroying land that could have fed millions. An Old World saying sums it up: "After the man the desert." In the legends of our ancient wild ancestors, the First Commandment is: "Thou shalt not till."

Joseph was a brilliant visionary, and one day he received an illuminating revelation.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Michael Foley on September 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book! Published in 1950, it is the second, enlarged edition of a book originally written in, I think, 1939. It reflects a lifetime of research around the world and personal trials on the author's farm in Virginia on the uses of tree crops for animal and human food. It anticipates the permaculture literature in advocating a "two-storey" agriculture, with tree crops (primarily nuts) as the primary source of animal fodder on sloping and hilly land. It documents the incredible productivity of tree crops and their traditional uses as fodder for pigs, goats, cattle, and poultry. I was particularly struck by the evidence from southern Europe, where extensive chestnut forests produce(d) some of the finest pork in the region. But there is evidence from around the globe, attesting to not only the uses of tree crops but their potential for breeding to build on that potential.

Following up on Smith's advice, I went to my local garden shop recently to inquire about honey locusts. Oh yes, I was told, we sold quite a few to the city as shade trees. No, no, I said, I want a messy variety, one that drops bushels of pods. She looked it up. Apparently the breeders have indeed been at work since Smith wrote -- eliminating the seeds from a tree that could provide nutritious feed to replace the corn and soy beans whose production has been ravishing the planet for decades! The book should be in every permaculturalist's library but in every rural public library, as well, and regularly taught in our terrible agricultural colleges.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
I don't have too much to say about Tree Crops---A Permanent Agriculture wrote by J. Russell Smith and the introduction by Wendell Berry. Its is a summary of tree choices for US lands and there potential roles as a food source for humans and livestock. I was most intriuged by the information on utilizing mulberry trees as an early season feed supply for pigs and chickens. I would recommend the book for any sustainable ag fans who are very willing to think outside the box.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Warren on November 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Tree Crops is a real gem of a book for anyone interested in sustainable agriculture. In 1953, J. Russell Smith proposed shifting to a no-till agriculture based on trees as a way to avoid soil erosion, nutrient depletion, and weeds. His proposal is well thought out, researched, and presented. A delightful set of small black and white photographs illustrates applications of his idea. One shows pigs collecting the mulberries from the grassy field of a mulberry grove...other pictures illustrate carob and persimmons cultivation. J. Russell Smith taught economic geography at Columbia University, but he was interested in concrete details. The writing style is calm and diligent, but the proposal is a grand one, is it not?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rusty on May 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book in kindle format. I am very disappointed. The text is totally unreadable due to the extremely small scans of the original pages. Multiple pages are are displayed on each kindle page. The pages of the book are display in the screen 90 degrees out of the readers perspective as if we wish to read the screen of the kindle from the right side. Hopefully this will be corrected in the future. There are other problems with the kindle version such as splits between the top and bottom of the page. Some pages displayed the top of the original page on the bottom with the bottom of the original page on the top.
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