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Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests
Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests
by Steve Gabriel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.14
50 used & new from $24.06

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Source of Inspiration (and perspiration), October 27, 2014
"Farming the Woods" by Steve Gabriel and Ken Mudge is a comprehensive and inspiring book. But it is also practical one. If you are planning to break a sweat - to do the intellectual and physical labor of designing and creating a forest-farm landscape - this book will provide the "nuts and bolts" in a style that is useful and accessible. At the same time it will support your sense of the importance of such a large endeavor with a consistent emphasis on the broader context - a future that demands new frameworks for understanding our relationship with the natural world.

As it moves between big picture and microcosm, case study and theory, the book manages to be practical, detailed, engaging and sweeping - all at the same time!

The book starts in the past but shows a powerful sense of responsibility for the future. In a short introductory section about the history of human interactions with northern temperate-forest ecosystems the authors demonstrate an incisive perspective on the complex weave of those historical relationships. Then, in the following section, they announce a clear-eyed focus on an even more complex future - on the undeniable fact of climate change that will redefine our relationships with the changing landscapes around us for decades or centuries to come.

Without shying away from the realities of the challenges we face, the book moves forward to consider how forest farming can contribute to ending and possibly mending the damage of the fossil-fuel era. This long-term view is an important secondary benefit of a forest-farming perceptive. Unlike the design of this year's vegetable garden, if you are designing within the forest realm you must take a longer view of things - often a view that spans generations.

The practical core of the book comes to the fore with extensive chapters on (a) cultivation of fruits and nuts "and more" (I was delighted that even the shrubs and "junk trees" in my hedgerows get attention - sumac, hawthorne, elderberry), (b) mushroom cultivation in a wide variety of forms, (c) forest medicinals and their practical economies, (d) the use of forest farms as nurseries, (e) the role of wood products and (f) integrating animals into the forest farm.

These sections are intensely practical but satisfying in their depth and breadth. If you are wondering "is there a market for that?" you will find a chart showing results of a survey of chefs' familiarity with different mushroom varieties. If you are questioning whether ginseng would grow on your land there is a comprehensive tally of "visual site assessment and grading criteria" that will allow you to look at tree species and soil types and slopes and give your land a 'ginseng grade'. If you are thinking "could I actually make money doing that?", you will find a discussion of the economics of a duck-shiitake polyculture and another extended case study of a successful mushroom growing operation.

Of course these charts and tables and case studies are not intended to be business plans to take to the bank, but they do show very convincingly that the authors have their "feet on the ground." They are clearly aware of the need to consider the balance of time, effort and expense put into an enterprise against its practical returns. These examples and the wonderful range of case studies presented throughout the book also serve as models for an economic framework for evaluating different approaches that is often neglected in books of this sort.

Although they do a fine job of demonstrating how you can use rigorous economic thinking to support your design decisions, the authors are careful to point out, and model throughout the book, that there is more to consider. There are factors beyond the economic that we all incorporate into designing our lives and vocations. As they say, "the plants and mushrooms covered in this book can and should be grown joyfully for personal satisfaction, environmental sustainability, personal use and self-sufficiency."

The book concludes with an extensively-illustrated section on the multi-stage process of designing and managing a forest farm. This takes the two authors ongoing work with the McDaniels Nut Grove on the lands of Cornell University as a centerpiece. But even here the book mixes focus on details (how to safely fell a tree) with broader perspectives and concerns such as "multigenerational management" and alternative models of land ownership and acquisition.

Last, but not least, the book is a visual delight! The mix of color photographs, charts and tables, line drawings, graphically-highlighted vignettes and more extended case studies keeps things lively. It is printed on quality stock that will bear up to repeated thumbing, and shows Chelsea Green's usual attention to top-notch production values. It is certainly a book that can be read through linearly, but it is also one that can be taken in pieces as your mood and interests guide you.

"Farming the Woods" is a deeply-satisfying exposure to important ideas. The in-depth material is fascinating and often eye-opening, the case studies are inspiring, and the broader question of how to create a sustainable future is never far from center.


The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America
The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America
by Langdon Cook
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.63
91 used & new from $4.84

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story that stops short of asking some hard questions..., March 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Not too many low ratings here - because this is just such an interesting book to read! People just find so many unusual ways to make a life and a living and we sure do love reading about them. Four stars for a great read - but the fifth is missing because the book avoids looking at some bigger-picture concerns. I anticipate that my comments will ruffle folks who have read and enjoyed the book. Well I enjoyed it too but expected a little more.

As an amateur mushroom forager I found the notion of scaling-up to the level of some of these folks not entirely palatable. It is such a pleasure in my (upstate NY) neck of the woods to find a few morels. And when I pick I always try to leave some behind. But I got a weird sensation of "overkill" from the description of the large-scale of some these "hunters" activities. I guess it's somewhat like the situation of a hobby gardener who reads a really great "New Yorker" piece about life on a 1000-acre corn farm. Interesting - but a bit much?

I have some friends who raise mushrooms (mainly Shiitake) on a fairly large scale and their level of enterprise and effort somehow seem a better match specifically because they are growing, not foraging. Mushroom growing can be a great economic support to a small-holding and an active part of a locavore community. Mushroom foraging seems intrinsically to be a smaller-scale thing to do - but not for most of the folks in this book.

And it is so interesting how we always celebrate "the outlaw" in our culture: our "Sopranos" and our Jesse Jameses and our bootleggers - while living in a society dominated by the rise of the outlaw corporate person. If it is cool for a professional forager to take what they can get from a protected national park, why is it not so for a logging company to bribe a few senators to get the legal right to do the same to the redwoods. Is it just that the former are "just a few" individuals? I would think that the tragedy of the commons is a tragedy no matter what thescale.

Ah well - if I had rated one-star I suppose I would have triggered the sort of comment-thread repartee that some other reviews of mine seem to elicit. I suppose just another 4-star hidden in the forest of 4's and 5's for this book will not be noticed. Only a real review "forager" will find it!


Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes
Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes
by Sergei Boutenko
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.05
67 used & new from $11.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Like a lot of wild edibles - a pleasant surprise !, March 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Initially I thought this book was going to be a sort of "puff piece". Although I didn't know Mr. Boutenko, his being featured on the cover suggested that he must be famous in some circles and the book was being marketed based on his name and photo. I have to say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised - the book had a good deal of substance and a number of very nice, distinctive elements. The recipes included for each entry were actually interesting and useful - that surprised me. It does give you a broader sense of the value of some of these wild edibles when you think of them in a more creative cooking context. I was also surprised to see a number of tree species included - this is pretty unusual for this sort of book. This is not a book to take with you into the wilds to survive - but it is a nice addition to a collection of similar books.


The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (The Liberation Trilogy)
The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (The Liberation Trilogy)
by Rick Atkinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.54
223 used & new from $2.93

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't help but be an interesting read - but nothing new, June 27, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have reviewed the first book of this trilogy at greater length here on Amazon and essentially expressed my sense that my search for over-arching themes of the book or the trilogy had gone un-rewarded.

This, the concluding book, covers some of the most well-trod paths of WWII history whereas the prior two, covering Torch/North Africa and Sicily were exploring less busy territory.

I still feel the series lacks and wants an overarching theme - I had thought, perhaps it was to be an explication of the blooding and growth of the American armies in WWII as fighting forces but this question (can they manage it? why? why not?) seemed left in the dusty sands of Tunisia somewhere. I wondered if other themes might emerge: "Eisenhower", "inter-allied conflict and cooperation" and such. While one can find all of these entertained in the series, none serves as a foundational perch from which to re-examine the history which has had so much written about it.

This particular volume seemed intent in an annoying way at peppering the text with numeric data - tedious lists of thisses and thats and how many of each was produced or consumed or lost each day or week or month. Perhaps a perfectly decent "first read" for someone looking for a history of WWII but not if you have read a handful or more of other histories - nothing new here I'd say.


Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top 6-1/2-Quart Popcorn Popper
Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top 6-1/2-Quart Popcorn Popper
Price: $34.69
23 used & new from $26.88

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT Induction compatible, e.g. not stainless steel, December 30, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Inaccurate product description.

Apparently the lower pot of this popper is some sort of "clad" stainless steel (probably aluminum) since it did not pass the "magnet test" and did not work on our induction cooktop. We specifically bought it to replace our older aluminum popper and had to return it.

This popper: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003V8Y6LC/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00 is stated in the product description to be induction compatible.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2014 9:02 AM PST


Taylor 9847 Compact Waterproof Digital Thermometer
Taylor 9847 Compact Waterproof Digital Thermometer
Price: $12.50
69 used & new from $10.49

1.0 out of 5 stars Not waterproof - lasted 2 months, December 2, 2012
As mentioned by others. It got wet in the sink and the screen fogged from the inside. Then the glued on silver label started to peel off. Then, after about 2 months it just stopped working. Waste of money.


Tornado Crossword Pencil 1.15Mm
Tornado Crossword Pencil 1.15Mm
Offered by Etailz
Price: $32.00
11 used & new from $31.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Which version do you own? Be careful shopping for refills., December 1, 2012
A nice, elegant pen. Great for doing crosswords. But WATCH OUT if you are buying refills for these pens. Apparently the manufacturer made two versions!

I bought the 1.15mm refills available here on Amazon for my wife's pen after checking the manufacture site (retro51.com) and the Amazon listing for the pen. BOTH say the pen uses 1.15mm leads. Well that is just not correct. The 1.15mm refills do not fit in my wife's pen which appears to require 0.9mm. Good luck trying to figure out if your pen is 0.9 or 1.15.

Undoubtedly a good product for those for whom it works, but 3 stars for incorrect data posted here and by the manufacturer themselves and for the aggravation of going through a return process because of that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2012 8:33 PM PST


RETRO 1951 1.15MM REFILL LEAD 12-PACK
RETRO 1951 1.15MM REFILL LEAD 12-PACK
Offered by Court House Supplies
Price: $5.92
6 used & new from $2.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT for all Tornado Crossword Pens !, December 1, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Be careful if you are buying these for the otherwise-nice Tornado/Retro51 crossword pen.

I bought these for my wife's pen after checking the manufacture site (retro51.com) and the Amazon listing for the pen. BOTH say the pen uses 1.15mm leads. Well that is just not correct. They do not fit in my wife's pen which appears to require 0.9mm. Good luck trying to figure out if your pen is 0.9 or 1.15 or something else.

Undoubtedly a good product for those for whom it works but 2 stars for incorrect data posted here and by the manufacturer themselves.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2014 10:15 PM PDT


DEWALT DW2215 #2 Phillips and #2 Square Recess Double Ended Screwdriver Bit (3-Pack)
DEWALT DW2215 #2 Phillips and #2 Square Recess Double Ended Screwdriver Bit (3-Pack)
Price: $4.98
12 used & new from $2.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I had found these sooner !, December 1, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
We bought a property that required a lot of "un-building" a while back. Along the way we discovered that the previous owner had apparently used regular phillips screws for years but then decided to switch to square-recess ones instead.

Pretty much every de-construction job seemed to involve a constant switching between the two types bits on my Dewalt driver. About every third time I put one down to make the switch I forgot it and lost it!

With these the bit-switching process is a quick five-second job flipping the bit - and I've got a lot fewer lost bits. I'm even thinking of switching to square-recess screws for my next projects.


Swissco Tooth Brush Tortoise Natural Bristle Hard, 3-Count Pack
Swissco Tooth Brush Tortoise Natural Bristle Hard, 3-Count Pack
Price: $11.99
2 used & new from $11.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Plastic, December 1, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you are looking for a way to avoid scraping a bunch of plastic around your mouth every day - keep looking. If you are looking to have less plastic scraping around your planet every day... ditto.

I bought these on a gamble - since the product description (and that includes the one at the Swissco site) does not say what the handles are made of. Amazon search on "wooden toothbrush" pops up these among others. Great search engine, eh! Apparently we have gotten to the point that the default material for a product is plastic!. Packaged separately in plastic cylinders and then into a plastic ziploc. Sigh...

On the positive side the bristles are apparently natural. I didn't detect the smell of badger fur (!) another reviewer mentioned (how does one know that?). A few bristles came out on the first brushing but it seems to be holding together otherwise. The handle is about an inch too short for my taste.

If you don't care about the fossil fuels used to make plastic, and the toxic hormone-emulating chemicals in most plastics, and the ten-thousand-year landfill mountains of plastic we are leaving our grandkids then keep buying this sort of junk. If you do care then join me in posting reviews like this that tell manufacturers plastic = no sale... or, in my case, no more sale.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2014 11:49 PM PDT


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