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The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach Paperback – June 3, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly-

STARRED REVIEW: "This intelligent, challenging book, rooted somewhere between back-to-the-land idealism and radical survivalism, sees resilience as both planting and building for the use of future generations, but also as preparing food, water, shelter, and the human body and psyche for the onset of any imaginable extreme emergency. The result is a comprehensive, open-ended, theoretical and practical system for a post-carbon-dependent life―including site design; water and earthworks; perennial farming that integrates gardening, animal husbandry, and soil building; energy; architecture; and personal health―a system that is not only sustainable but restorative of the biosphere. Readers just dipping their toes into sustainability may be overwhelmed by Falk’s comprehensive vision and intimidating appendices listing homestead vulnerabilities and crucial skills for emergencies, but more seasoned 21st-century homesteaders, permies, and possibly also survivalists will appreciate Falk’s realism and his belief that 'the process is an enjoyable, vitalizing one, and the results are staggering and humbling ... life wants to live.'"

Foreword Reviews-

"Permaculture can seem like a too-large umbrella term attempting to bring together a range of concepts and strategies, and many authors have tried to articulate the discipline in an accessible way. Ben Falk stands out for this highly successful effort at addressing how farmers and homesteaders can select, design, develop, and manage resilient properties that adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Bringing his decade of experience managing a ten-acre permaculture farm in Vermont, as well as teaching about whole-systems design, Falk conveys the importance of better-designed agriculture and systems in The Resilient Farm and Homestead. Going beyond how-to advice on vegetable growing or chicken coop management, he delves into topics like fuel wood production, nutrient-dense food production, and gravity-fed water systems, which rely on moving water downhill instead of utilizing mechanical pumps. Natural strategies are emphasized, like silvopasture, a practice that combines livestock grazing and forestry to enhance soil protection and provide wind protection for animals.

The material, seemingly overwhelming in scope, is presented artfully with numerous sidebars and bullet points that break information into digestible chunks. For example, a chapter on food production includes a chart on annual vs. perennial labor and input costs, a diagram of a “living security fence” made of black locust trees, and a list of storage options for harvested vegetables. Particularly compelling are a number of appendices, from a “resiliency aptitude quiz” to a crucial skill list for emergencies to a vocabulary of concepts.

Also useful, the book’s abundant photography presents a bucolic, serene series of images that make urban dwellers sigh with longing. Burlap sacks brimming with potatoes grace one page, while a lush summer garden pops from another. Farm volunteers are shown picking elderberries, raising a timber-framed wall, and grafting fruit trees. Falk also includes plenty of practical illustrations as well, such as a drawing of how to grow rice in buckets, or a diagram of a wood-heated hot water system.

The combination of these inspiring images and Falk’s deeply integrative approach provide a much-needed permaculture guide that will likely kick off an array of reader projects. The mix of resources, practical advice, and land design offered here is a strong starting point for anyone interested in regenerative agriculture and modern homesteading." 

"With The Resilient Farm and Homestead, Ben Falk has definitely planted the seeds of a positive, abundant legacy. This book outlines the process of designing one's homestead with not just the future in mind, but the imminently practical NOW!  This one is going on my shelf next to Helen and Scott Nearing."--Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture

"Ben Falk extends the conversation about resilience to deep resilience--resilience from the level of personal attitudes and skills to the design and creation of the maximally resilient homestead.The Resilient Farm and Homestead weaves together permaculture theory as modified by actual practice on a ten-acre Vermont farm with a thorough preparedness guide for times of climate change and greater uncertainties of all kinds and sizes. The book is greatly enhanced by numerous glorious photos of permaculture plantings as hedge rows, rice paddies, people swimming in swale-enclosed ponds, fruit and vegetable harvesting, and foraging sheep, chickens, and ducks. I particularly appreciate that Falk tells us what didn't work as well as what did. This book will be essential reading for the serious prepper as well as for everyone interested in creating a more resilient lifestyle or landscape."--Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

"Imagine. Honoring biodiversity in a place we each commit to for the long haul is what it takes to address a rapidly changing climate. Problem solved! Plant trees, let greenness thrive, learn the ways of fungi, be joyful. Ben Falk provides the encouragement and critical know-how to create your own food-producing sanctuary in The Resilient Farm and Homestead. The time is now to engage in healing the land and secure an ongoing future for generations to come."--Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard

"The Resilient Farm and Homestead is a terrific book. Simultaneously inspiring and practical, Ben Falk takes you from the why to the how...a journey where you will create a present and future filled with optimism and joy."--Shannon Hayes, author of Long Way on a Little and Radical Homemakers

"In The Resilient Farm and Homestead, Ben Falk gives us a delightful and inspiring description of his years developing a 10-acre permaculture farm in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  Readers from regions outside New England, however, should not assume that Falk’s practical, hard-won knowledge will not apply to them.  His discussions invariably transcend the specific applications revealing principles which should be useful to homesteaders everywhere."--Larry Korn, editor of The One-Straw Revolution and Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka

"Ben Falk calls his book about reviving a wornout hill farm in Vermont an example of resilience and regeneration; I call it pure natural magic. Grow rice in New England? Yes. Heat water to 155 degrees F on cold winter days at a rate of gallon a minute by piping it through a compost pile? Yes. How about dinner tonight of your own rack of lamb garnished with homegrown mushrooms? Yes. Your choice of scores of different vegetables and fruits even in winter? Yes. Plus, your own dairy products from your own sheep. All the while, the soil producing this magic, on a site once thought little more than a wasteland, grows yearly more fertile and secure from natural calamity."--Gene Logsdon, author of A Sanctuary of Trees and Small-Scale Grain Raising

About the Author

Ben Falk, M.A.L.D, developed Whole Systems Design, LLC, as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things. Life as a designer, builder, ecologist, tree-tender, and backcountry traveler continually informs Ben's integrative approach to developing landscapes and buildings. His home landscape and the WSD studio site in Vermont's Mad River Valley serve as a proving ground for the innovative land developments featured in the projects of Whole Systems Design. Ben has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds master of arts in landscape design degree. He has taught design courses at the University of Vermont and Harvard's Arnold Arboretum as well as on permaculture design, microclimate design, and design for climate change. He recently served on the board of directors at the Yestermorrow Design-Build School, where he also teaches from time to time. He is the author of The Resilient Homestead: Innovative Permaculture Systems for the Home and Farm.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; n edition (June 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603584447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603584449
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The title really says it all. For those unfamiliar with the concept, permaculture, as defined in this work, is "applied disturbance ecology". The fundamental idea being that working with the land allows an optimized native ecosystem which is productive, supports life, and requires minimal maintenance. The term was first proposed by Bill Mollison and Dave Holmgren and first published in book form in Permaculture One: A Perennial Agricultural System for Human Settlements, and more extensively fleshed out in Permaculture: A Designers' Manual, but these are the kinds of works which beg for explanation. They are full of practical advice, plans and drawings for homestead design, water usage, and crop selection, but for all their visionary qualities, Mollison and Holmgren are not as organized or easy to follow as many would like. Additionally, the practical examples, with before and after pictures, and case studies demonstrating effectiveness are minimal in those works. This, I think, is the reason for the explosion of works like Shephard's Restoration Agriculture, and Hemenway's Gaia's Garden. This work is very much in the same tradition, but I liked it better than either of those.
The first chapter is a "why permaculture?" discussion.
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I've been gardening, homesteading, medium scale farming/ranching in three states (MO, northern CA & NM) and five properties in the past nearly 50 years, have an extensive library, subscribe to several excellent relevant publications, am constantly learning and expanding my skills & horizons. This is, hands down, one of the best, most comprehensive and HELPFUL books of which I am aware. Yes, I have and love resources from John Seymour, Gene Logsdon, Sepp Holzer, Joel Salatin, a HUGE amount of permaculture texts, gardening, homesteading, grass farming, sustainability, etc., WHICH ARE IMMEASURABLY VALUABLE, but this is right up there with the best. I enthusiastically echo several other excellent reviews, but cannot understand the scathingly negative ones. For my purposes, Ben has written a wonderfully refreshing blend of PRACTICAL and possible permaculture homesteading book from his PERSONAL experience. I've plenty of books gathering dust telling me what to do and what should work...but not many willing to admit when it doesn't (particularly the permaculture books). It is concise despite covering an impressive array of material. Not everything that "experienced" old-timers do works equally well in all situations and I appreciate the author's honest reporting of what is or is not working historically and currently on his particular property at various stages of its development/reclamation. It often takes several years of working with a property to get a feel for what it wants and needs in terms of plants, animals, water, amendments...especially if one's experience is with vastly divergent enterprises and climatic challenges. Regardless of what we know (or think we know), one can always learn from others' successes, mistakes, ideas, experience.Read more ›
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I am not quite finished with this book. In fact, I keep re-reading the first few chapters. I have several permaculture books, but for some reason this one is combining the theoretical and philosophical with the 'nuts and bolts' in a way that is clear and, most importantly, encouraging and inspiring for ME, on MY property. I have been carrying this book with me everywhere and reading it in digestible bits (there is a LOT there). Mean while, I find I am seeing the world around me in new ways. This book is transforming me from a person who only sits on the couch and reads good books, to a person who is out there actually creating what the books inspire me to dream.

P.S. Everyone in America should read the chapter on systems principles: I have even been applying the ideas to my work place and housework schedule to make the function more appropriately! Not what the author intended, I am sure, but it does speak volumes about applicable nature of the ideas presented.
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The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach:

I was introduced to Ben Falk from a Jack Spirko interview. Intrigued by the interview, little did I know that reading this book would take me to worlds that the interview didn't touch on. I checked it out of the library which is fine for most books. I'll have to purchase this book for the reams and realms of detail that I'll never remember. This isn't a "how to" book as much as it is bible for designing for and restoring beat up, degraded land in a cold temperate climate although the design principles are applicable anywhere. It is also a book about a life worth living that adapts to the terrain and space that you live in and fits into, even enhances that space. It all happens through the interconnectedness of a natural world eons in the making, through permaculture, from permanent culture.

It is a story of the laws and reality of nature on a ten acre patch of used up land in hilly Vermont, utilizing the designs of men and women who can, if they do so with care and knowledge, make these laws work better than nature left to its own devices, delivering abundance to both human animals and rescuing biodiverse nature. Sounds intimate and near impossible, doesn't it? But it's working. Woven throughout this superb book is a big picture understanding that just is, and is little filtered through the ideology, politics and economics that divide us today. Ben Falk is the real deal, a startling 30 something blend of Wendell Berry, Bill Mollison and Joel Salatin.

You don't have to be looking to or be dreaming about farming or homesteading to gain from reading and studying this book. Coming out of and brutalized by an intense period of exploitation without care of human, animal, vegetation and watery/soily nature, just the hope alone is worth the read. Things to exploit are winding down and kicking back. It's time for something different!
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