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The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country Paperback – June 1, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 85 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review


Review - Transition Voice Vicki Lipski, July 26th

Peter Bane's handbook, while not quite encyclopedic, is nothing if not authoritative. I can honestly say, without fear of exaggeration, that I hold my head a little higher as I stride about my miniscule fiefdom, now that I've read The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country.
The stones Bane leaves unturned are few and far between. Once you've digested the author's ruminations on mapping, patterns, and garden elements, perennials, water, soil, plants, crops, seeds, and animal husbandry, not to mention his lists of plants and the jobs to which they are best suited, there's little chance you'll walk away dissatisfied.

Bane's treatment of these various aspects of garden farming (his preferred term) is methodical and complete. It was a relief and a delight to find that he allows both his sense of humor and political sensibilities to creep in from time to time.

He never forgets, however, that his purpose in writing is to distill over thirty years' experience in the science and the art of permaculture. There is much to be learned. The complete novice may, in fact, find the author's thoroughness a bit blinding. In this case, a piecemeal approach could well be the best one.

Bane himself advises the reader to start small, and good advice it is. As you proceed to branch out beyond the basics, the book's tidbits of information and advice will take on more and more relevance.

Pass the salt
For instance, did you know that if your fruit isn't sweet, or your vegetables are the object of an insect infestation, it's probably because your soil suffers from a mineral deficiency? Your soil is in need of amending (most everybody's is, to one degree or another).

It has been my contention, almost from the day we moved to the Cincinnati area, that the foods here are extremely bland. Now I understand why! The soil here is just awful - a tan, clumpy clay that is utterly devoid of worms and organic matter, and therefore completely unable to hold onto water. If it's possible to be deficient in everything, then this soil is. For folks in these parts, permaculture could literally spice up their lives. Good soil is the beginning of good eating.

Here's some more great advice that, by itself, is worth the purchase price of the book On page 88, we learn to,
... keep all soil growing some crop at all times
...Seed or transplant the next crop as soon as or, better, before the maturing one is harvested.

This book is packed with wisdom gleaned from decades of working the soil. Assuming I get my sonic mole repeller in time (they're tunneling me out of house and home), the winter squash will go in and around my thriving tomato plants. If I can lay my hands on some more cabbage seeds, they'll go in at the same time (the first planting was a washout).

With a cluck, cluck here...
The animal husbandry section offers a cornucopia of down-to-earth knowledge and advice.

I've long harbored the desire to raise chickens, but here - as elsewhere - we belong to a homeowners' association, so I've been frustrated yet again.
For those among you lucky enough to be able to own livestock, take a close look at chapter 14, "Animals for the Garden Farm." Interestingly, there are three animals which Bane believes the garden farmer should steer clear of: horses (not worth the upkeep), sheep (prone to parasites, need lots of land), and donkeys (need land).

He also takes on the ethical conundrum of raising animals for meat, as well as the importance of their breeding.

There is a lovely, lengthy section on beekeeping. Yet I believe this section includes a rare, important oversight; that is the failure to discuss Colony Collapse Disorder. This is just too important a problem to ignore. I hope it will be covered in the inevitable second edition.

The Permaculture Handbook is liberally adorned with black and white drawings and photographs. As can sometimes be the case with garden and farming pictures, the subjects of photos are occasionally difficult to determine. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that permaculturists (I include myself) do not necessarily pride themselves on a tidy garden farm. Everything tends to be a "work in progress," and it shows. Such concerns notwithstanding, the color photos are particularly well done; the numbered captions are easily understood. The photos appear to have been carefully selected, and truly do add a needed dimension that bolsters the book's authoritativeness.

If they can, you can!
Finally, Bane's case studies include an up-to-the minute analysis of his own Renaissance Farm, in Bloomington, Indiana (also home to the magazine The Permaulture Activist). His year-by-year history of the progress he and partner Keith Johnson have made in turning their .7 acre into a working farm makes for genuinely interesting reading. As Bane describes the endlessly cyclical nature of what they do:
Self-reliance and food storage are both increasing. Soils are improving. The growing season is now year-round.
Would that we could all say the same.

Working examples
Other operations are described, as well: Jerome's Organics, of Basalt, Colorado; Old 99 Farm, in Dundas, Ontario; and Radical Roots Farm, of Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Jerome's is far and away the oldest of the four farms described, established in 1982. It's also different in that its primary mission is educational, both insofar as garden design is concerned, and with regard to producing successful yields. Jerome Osentowski welcomes students and visitors to his demonstration garden and educational programs year-round.

The other two garden farms were much more recently established. In the case of Old 99 Farm, operator Ian Graham sells winter vegetables, eggs, dairy and cow-shares. Radical Roots operators Dave O'Neill and wife Lee Sturgis offer annual vegetables, nursery plants, and eggs. Dave teaches permaculture design, and consults. Lee and Dave hire paid interns, affording a valuable opportunity to up-and-coming garden farmers.

I'll leave you with a parting thought of my own - this book deserves to be a part of your gardening library - and one of Peter Bane's:
The essential work of Permaculture activism is to understand and see abundance in the world around us, often before others do, and then to help others to see it also, to bring it into being.



Review - Transition Voice Vicki Lipski, July 26th

Peter Bane's handbook, while not quite encyclopedic, is nothing if not authoritative. I can honestly say, without fear of exaggeration, that I hold my head a little higher as I stride about my miniscule fiefdom, now that I've read The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country.
The stones Bane leaves unturned are few and far between. Once you've digested the author's ruminations on mapping, patterns, and garden elements, perennials, water, soil, plants, crops, seeds, and animal husbandry, not to mention his lists of plants and the jobs to which they are best suited, there's little chance you'll walk away dissatisfied.

Bane's treatment of these various aspects of garden farming (his preferred term) is methodical and complete. It was a relief and a delight to find that he allows both his sense of humor and political sensibilities to creep in from time to time.

He never forgets, however, that his purpose in writing is to distill over thirty years' experience in the science and the art of permaculture. There is much to be learned. The complete novice may, in fact, find the author's thoroughness a bit blinding. In this case, a piecemeal approach could well be the best one.

Bane himself advises the reader to start small, and good advice it is. As you proceed to branch out beyond the basics, the book's tidbits of information and advice will take on more and more relevance.

Pass the salt
For instance, did you know that if your fruit isn't sweet, or your vegetables are the object of an insect infestation, it's probably because your soil suffers from a mineral deficiency? Your soil is in need of amending (most everybody's is, to one degree or another).

It has been my contention, almost from the day we moved to the Cincinnati area, that the foods here are extremely bland. Now I understand why! The soil here is just awful - a tan, clumpy clay that is utterly devoid of worms and organic matter, and therefore completely unable to hold onto water. If it's possible to be deficient in everything, then this soil is. For folks in these parts, permaculture could literally spice up their lives. Good soil is the beginning of good eating.

Here's some more great advice that, by itself, is worth the purchase price of the book On page 88, we learn to,
... keep all soil growing some crop at all times
...Seed or transplant the next crop as soon as or, better, before the maturing one is harvested.

This book is packed with wisdom gleaned from decades of working the soil. Assuming I get my sonic mole repeller in time (they're tunneling me out of house and home), the winter squash will go in and around my thriving tomato plants. If I can lay my hands on some more cabbage seeds, they'll go in at the same time (the first planting was a washout).

With a cluck, cluck here...
The animal husbandry section offers a cornucopia of down-to-earth knowledge and advice.

I've long harbored the desire to raise chickens, but here - as elsewhere - we belong to a homeowners' association, so I've been frustrated yet again.
For those among you lucky enough to be able to own livestock, take a close look at chapter 14, "Animals for the Garden Farm." Interestingly, there are three animals which Bane believes the garden farmer should steer clear of: horses (not worth the upkeep), sheep (prone to parasites, need lots of land), and donkeys (need land).

He also takes on the ethical conundrum of raising animals for meat, as well as the importance of their breeding.

There is a lovely, lengthy section on beekeeping. Yet I believe this section includes a rare, important oversight; that is the failure to discuss Colony Collapse Disorder. This is just too important a problem to ignore. I hope it will be covered in the inevitable second edition.

The Permaculture Handbook is liberally adorned with black and white drawings and photographs. As can sometimes be the case with garden and farming pictures, the subjects of photos are occasionally difficult to determine. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that permaculturists (I include myself) do not necessarily pride themselves on a tidy garden farm. Everything tends to be a "work in progress," and it shows. Such concerns notwithstanding, the color photos are particularly well done; the numbered captions are easily understood. The photos appear to have been carefully selected, and truly do add a needed dimension that bolsters the book's authoritativeness.

If they can, you can!
Finally, Bane's case studies include an up-to-the minute analysis of his own Renaissance Farm, in Bloomington, Indiana (also home to the magazine The Permaulture Activist). His year-by-year history of the progress he and partner Keith Johnson have made in turning their .7 acre into a working farm makes for genuinely interesting reading. As Bane describes the endlessly cyclical nature of what they do:
Self-reliance and food storage are both increasing. Soils are improving. The growing season is now year-round.
Would that we could all say the same.

Working examples
Other operations are described, as well: Jerome's Organics, of Basalt, Colorado; Old 99 Farm, in Dundas, Ontario; and Radical Roots Farm, of Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Jerome's is far and away the oldest of the four farms described, established in 1982. It's also different in that its primary mission is educational, both insofar as garden design is concerned, and with regard to producing successful yields. Jerome Osentowski welcomes students and visitors to his demonstration garden and educational programs year-round.

The other two garden farms were much more recently established. In the case of Old 99 Farm, operator Ian Graham sells winter vegetables, eggs, dairy and cow-shares. Radical Roots operators Dave O'Neill and wife Lee Sturgis offer annual vegetables, nursery plants, and eggs. Dave teaches permaculture design, and consults. Lee and Dave hire paid interns, affording a valuable opportunity to up-and-coming garden farmers.

I'll leave you with a parting thought of my own - this book deserves to be a part of your gardening library - and one of Peter Bane's:
The essential work of Permaculture activism is to understand and see abundance in the world around us, often before others do, and then to help others to see it also, to bring it into being.

Review

"When Apollo 13 found itself hurtling through space on its way to the far side of the moon with a ruptured oxygen tank, a critical path was assembled that returned all souls safely back to Earth. In The Permaculture Handbook , Peter Bane has mapped the critical path to a safe landing for civilization in the 21st century. That path runs through the backyards of suburbia and across the rooftops and balconies of urban apartment houses. Like the Apollo mission, Bane has jury-rigged our carbon dioxide removal system by re-tasking other components ― small scale horticulture, aquatic plants and foraged trash, for instance ― to buy us breathing room. This is a must read."
― Albert Bates, author of The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook , and The Biochar Solution .

" The Permaculture Handbook offers practical examples from the author's many years of experience, coupled with information from permaculture practitioners from around the country. This makes the guidebook particularly useful to American readers. The chapters covering the integration of multifunctional species and breeds of domestic animals and wildlife are especially note-worthy. These chapters address the sometimes under-recognized value of animal products and services in the Permaculture literature. This book is a joy to read while thinking about applications to one's own endeavors."
― Donald Bixby, DVM, Retired Executive Director of American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

"Peter Bane's characteristic generosity and mastery are on display in this long anticipated encyclopedia of permaculture knowledge and lore. The Permaculture Handbook offers a thorough treatment of the design principles and patterns that of necessity precede the positive, practical, and profitable solutions that are the hallmark of permaculture design. Bill Mollison famously taught that we can create the "Garden of Eatin' ". Peter Bane shows us how."
― Claude William Genest, Former Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada. Producer, Host of the Emmy nominated PBS series "Regeneration: The Art of Sustainable Living"

"As oil becomes more scarce and expensive, society must adapt by re-localizing food systems. The Permaculture Handbook offers us a set of essential conceptual and practical tools for doing this in a way that's intelligent, beautiful, and sustainable. Want to create a better world? Your backyard ― and this book ― are the places to start."
― Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, Author, The End of Growth

"Here is an exquisite design manual for re-inhabiting our towns and cities, transforming them into flourishing and nourishing landscapes that provide food, fiber, energy and community. As you read this book, looking out from time to time at the paved, manicured tracts we've called home, you can almost see the world around you transforming ― a fruit tree here, a greenhouse there, a hill of corn, beans and squash in the corner, a photovoltaic array that charges your electric bicycle nearby. We are not in an era of despair, of coming apart. We are in an era of creativity where strong seeds grow in the very cracks in the concrete of our old ways of living. I applaud Peter for the wisdom, intelligence and hard work he has invested in his detailed, beautiful map of the land of permaculture."
― Vicki Robin, author Your Money or Your Life and Blessing the Hands that Feed Us (Viking/Penguin 2013).

"Peter Bane offers a powerful antidote to what we might call our "ephemeraculture"― the consumerist, oil-dependent, wasteful, and ruinous way of life produced by the marriage of industrialism and capitalism. In a voice at once practical and visionary, he tells how we can achieve security, practice self-reliance, and revive local economies by shifting to a regenerative form of agriculture, beginning in our own backyards. If you're hungry for hope, good food, neighborliness, conviviality, and survival skills, here is the book for you."
― Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Conservationist Manifesto .

"Morally mature cultures live well with the Earth and with each other. Peter Bane's beautifully written book lays out a path to that maturity and wisdom. Future generations will thank him ― and you if you read and use the wisdom he has gathered."
― Carolyn Raffensperger, Environmental lawyer, advocate for future generations, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network

"The wealth of practical knowledge in The Permaculture Handbook is a welcome addition to North America's canon of books on permaculture design, and will serve other regions as well. Peter Bane's broad and well-tested experience in ecological living, expressed here in clear and engaging prose, will guide homeowners, gardeners, and small farmers toward designing and living in lushly productive and harmonious landscapes."
― Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

"A book to carry us through to Eden, this keen, comprehensive design guide with its wisdom and instruction will be indispensable to any household aiming at flourishing, soil-based self-reliance. The practice is permaculture and Peter Bane is a true master."
― Stephanie Mills, author of On Gandhi's Path and Epicurean Simplicity

"With a lifetime of Permaculture immersion under his belt, Peter Bane's contribution to domestic selfreliant security in this comprehensive handbook is nothing short of remarkable. This will empower thousands of seekers to move off the bleachers and into the game. He balances beautifully the right amount of intensive ecological information with delightful case studies and practical outworkings. A gem of a manual. Thank you, Peter."
― Joel Salatin, Author, Farmer

"There are a lot of people out there who want to know how to begin making a better world, but don't know where to begin. I can't think of a better starting point for someone who wants to restore and transform their place than Peter Bane's Permaculture Handbook . Bane has taken the single most urgent question of our times "How shall we live" and given a real and viable answer."
― Sharon Astyk, writer, farmer, teacher and author of Making Home

" The Permaculture Handbook is worth reading and rereading not only for its depth of insight but also for its storytelling charm. Peter Bane's reflections on community-based efforts to realize permaculture's potential across entire landscapes helps us realize that this set of design principles are not vague abstractions, but something that we can smell, taste and see before our very eyes."
― Gary Paul Nabhan, ethnobotanist, writer, permaculture orchardkeeper, seed saver


Product details

  • Item Weight : 2.75 pounds
  • Paperback : 480 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0865716668
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0865716667
  • Dimensions : 8.5 x 0.96 x 11 inches
  • Reading level : 16 and up
  • Publisher : New Society Publishers; Original edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85 ratings

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