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Plants for a Future: Edible and Useful Plants for a Healthier World: 1 [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Ken Fern
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2011
The way we currently produce our food is damaging both to ourselves and our planet: we need to create gardens, woodlands and farms which are in harmony with nature. Though all natural ecosystems provide excellent examples to follow, Plants For a Future specifically focuses on edible species, suggesting a wide variety of easily grown perennials and self-seeding annuals which produce delicious and healthy food. Describing edible and other useful plants, both native to Britain and Europe, and from other temperate areas around the world, Plants For a Future includes those suitable for: the ornamental garden, the lawn, shady areas, ponds, walls, hedges, agroforestry and conservation. It offers alternative methods of growing these plants in ways that are in harmony with the local environment and can help to improve the overall health of the planet. In his thoroughly useful book, Ken Fern shares his experiments and successes in growing herbs, vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees. Packed with information, personal anecdotes and detailed appendices and indexes, this pioneering book takes gardening, conservation and ecology into a new dimension.

Frequently Bought Together

Plants for a Future: Edible and Useful Plants for a Healthier World: 1 + Creating a Forest Garden: Working with nature to grow edible crops + How to Grow Perennial Vegetables: Low-maintenance, Low-impact Vegetable Gardening
Price For All Three: £44.44

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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Permanent Publications; 2nd edition (1 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856230112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856230117
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Ken Fern leads us through a garden of improbable delights - cold climate yams five feet long, edible fuschia fruits, trees laden with delicious berries all through the winter, leaves and flowers with the most subtle and astonishing flavours. It is hard to over-estimate the importance and likely impact of this book. Plants for a Future hugely widens the range of edible species which we can, with confidence, grow in temperate climates. It shows us how to use land more efficiently and sustainably than ever before, and it brings to our sadly limited cuisine a vast new range of remarkable foods, all around the year. It is, in short, the first shot in an impending horticultural revolution. The result of an insatiable curiosity and years of painstaking research, this book is comparable in stature only to the works of Evelyn and Culpeper. --George Monbiot

Ken's enthusiasm and pertinent, honest observations make his writing as easily digested as the edible plants he loves. I'm delighted that this treasure trove of information has been marshalled between book covers and so made more accessible and preserved for future generations. --Joy Larkcom

In the 1970s British bus driver Ken Fern went back to the land. Twenty-five years later he published the first edition of this now-revised compendium, a catalog and guide to a staggering number of mostly-perennial plants that can be harvested for food and other uses. Literally, thousands of seed, root, fruit, flower and leaf crops from a range of bulbs, trees, shrubs, climbers, bamboos, water plants and more. Beyond climatic needs and appearance, plants are described in terms of their taste and, often, highly-specific use (e.g. Asarum canadense. SNAKE ROOT: 'a ginger substitute in flavouring cooked foods'). The index is conveniently broken up into edible uses (like condiments and egg and salt substitutes) and non-edible uses (like basketry, disinfectant, and tooth care); for more, check out 100 Other Uses. And actually, the Plants for a Future web site offers a searchable database of 7,000 plants. While much of the info from the book is available online, the printed format can be easier to peruse and digest. There are sections on 'green manures' and how to mulch with cardboard boxes or newspaper and straw, as well as how to make a pond. Despite all the ideas and potential outlined in the book, the final chapter, 'Future Possibilities', truly emphasizes the magical allure of cultivation and experimentation. --Steven Leckart, Cool Tools

Ken's enthusiasm and pertinent, honest observations make his writing as easily digested as the edible plants he loves. I'm delighted that this treasure trove of information has been marshalled between book covers and so made more accessible and preserved for future generations. --Joy Larkcom

In the 1970s British bus driver Ken Fern went back to the land. Twenty-five years later he published the first edition of this now-revised compendium, a catalog and guide to a staggering number of mostly-perennial plants that can be harvested for food and other uses. Literally, thousands of seed, root, fruit, flower and leaf crops from a range of bulbs, trees, shrubs, climbers, bamboos, water plants and more. Beyond climatic needs and appearance, plants are described in terms of their taste and, often, highly-specific use (e.g. Asarum canadense. SNAKE ROOT: 'a ginger substitute in flavouring cooked foods'). The index is conveniently broken up into edible uses (like condiments and egg and salt substitutes) and non-edible uses (like basketry, disinfectant, and tooth care); for more, check out 100 Other Uses. And actually, the Plants for a Future web site offers a searchable database of 7,000 plants. While much of the info from the book is available online, the printed format can be easier to peruse and digest. There are sections on 'green manures' and how to mulch with cardboard boxes or newspaper and straw, as well as how to make a pond. Despite all the ideas and potential outlined in the book, the final chapter, 'Future Possibilities', truly emphasizes the magical allure of cultivation and experimentation. --Steven Leckart, Cool Tools

From the Publisher

This book contains information on a great many alternative food plants and otherwise useful plants. It also offers alternative methods of growing these plants in ways that are in harmony with the local environment and can help to improve the overall health of the planet.
Whilst many of the plants discussed here are reasonably well known in this country (even if their uses are not so well known), a number of the plants are much more experimental in their nature.
It is hoped that the book will stimulate interest in these plants and help people to increase the range of foods in their diet. It is also hoped that it will encourage people to experiment with some of the plants in this book and thereby help us to increase our knowledge of them.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential information for sustanability 21 Jan 2001
Format:Paperback
This book present little-known(mostly perennial) plants for temperate climates with practical uses particularly food. It is a call to rethink our food production to a more ecological model and an essential and technically rich handbook for doing so in your own garden. A readable and enthusiastic collection of information which you won't find so easily anywhere else, and full of things you didn't know.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for a productive garden 22 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback
This is a fascinating book for anyone who wants their garden to be as edible as possible. His own story is inspiring, and his wonderfully lazy approach to permaculture is refreshing. Much more than a list of plants, my copy of this book has been read cover to cover, and has now become a great reference for whenever I find a corner of my garden which is in need of something new. With information from planting to tasting notes, this book is the one I rely on. Well worth investing in.
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114 of 116 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is one of the handful of books that every gardener (and cook) should have. And I'm a professional gardener with almost 300 gardening books, so I've got more than most to choose from. It wouldn't hurt if some policy makers read it as well.
Ken Fern is a gardening pioneer. He's actually grown not just the dozens of perennial plants in this book, but hundreds more, all of them good to eat or do something useful with, and then shared his favourites.
Most of our food currently comes from a small number of annual plants such as wheat. Nothing wrong with annuals - I wouldn't like to live without tomatoes, or sunflower seeds, or wheat, come to that. But being overdependent on annuals means we have to start growing our crops all over again every year - and that means lots of hard work, and a bigger risk of crop failure in bad conditions. It also means less biomass, far fewer opportunities for other species, and above all far more soil erosion. And of course being dependent on only a few species and varieties is downright dangerous - in the classic example, even though it was made worse by uncaring landowners and politicians, the Irish famine was still originally caused by overdependence on one species and very few varieties.
Ken Fern's book is almost entirely dedicated to perennial species, and a huge diversity of them. His way of growing food means far less work, more resilience and food security, more biomass to absorb carbon dioxide, more wildlife, and almost no soil erosion. Think of fruit trees such as apples, nut trees such as walnuts, or herbs like rosemary and thyme. Think of willows for baskets. But Ken's gone further still, and found plants to give us perennial vegetables, edible flowers, unusual roots and tubers, edible water plants, and much more.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow I didn't know that was edible! 4 Dec 2007
By Steph
Format:Paperback
A wonderful book that provides us with a new view on some of the most common, as well as unusual, plants available to grow in a temperate climate. It's focus is mostley on the edibility or medicinal use of a hudge variety of plants, a lot of them in your nearest garden centre. The growing conditions for each plant is also described making it an essential guide book to anybody with an interrest in gardening,natural medicine or food production. A Permaculture principle is for all things to be multifunctional. This books provides us with the information needed to finding other uses for plants than their beauty. Do not buy another plant without it!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful book on edible plants 24 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback
This is a very good and useful book.
It is comparable to the quality of its website. WIth still lots of species, very very useful nature and well-written, down to the point and synthetic. With also a personal look and a bit of permaculture/ecological taste.
I give it 9 out of 10. A book that you must have.
However I think it could have a more inspiring and colorful design. It is good text, good presentation with a dozen pages of colorful pictures. Still its very worth to have it.
And if you think you have the website, there is nothing than having the book in physical form, which is more personal.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, cant put it down! 10 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback
I recently bought this book as an addition to the earth care manual (which is also very very good). It fills in all the gaps as far as plant choice goes, the book is written in a great way to, even if your not that familiar with permaculture or gardening and just starting out. Brilliant, inspiring, buy it!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good reference book 19 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
inspiring and educational, this book is a good accompaniment to the web site. the book is not an alphabetical listing of plants but rather it has chapters devoted to specific conditions such as "Ponds and bogs" so is helpful in designing your own garden. also has plenty for further reading and resources listed. the web site is a national treasure in my opinion!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have 28 May 2009
Format:Paperback
I found the web site and was amazed. I looked around for the book for several months in many places trying to get one at a cheapo rate. Eventually I had to bite the bullet and buy one at a normal price. It's worth every penny. A fantastic book. If you want to check it out look at the website first. If you don't like the website you're not going to like the book. So why buy the book when the website is so good(probably better than the book). Because you may not always have the internet.
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