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Restoration Agriculture Paperback – 1 Jan 2013
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Top customer reviews
I do not like this book. There are many things I do not like but foremost among them is Shepherd's persistence in offering his personal opinion as fact. He does manage to get one thing right: that contemporary agriculture is unsustainable on many different levels. But his assertion that forest ecosystems designed to mimic nature will out-perform tillage in terms of calorific yield per unit area is at best unproven, and more likely, completely untrue for most of the planet's potential food-growing regions. Nor it is the key issue: a change in diet away from dairy and meat towards a greater intake of plant-derived foods would potentially free up so much land that a far less 'efficient' system of agriculture (as measured by the conversion of sunlight into usable product) would be perfectly viable.
But where I got really worried was when Shepherd asserted that 'the military represents a huge future market for hazelnuts grown in restoration agriculture systems' (page 88). I had to read this a few times to check this wasn't some sort of joke. But no, Mr Shepherd was deadly serious. He believes that US could grow hazelnuts to provide fuel for the military. It certainly puts a different slant on the word 'restoration'.
A remarkable contribution to creating profitable farm-scale sustainable permaculture systems to produce healthy and wholesome foods. Highly recommended.
It's not a 'how to' / instructional book - but I think it has something for both the interested outsider looking to find out more about the subject, as well as the experienced permaculture/regenerative agriculture practitioner.
Mark's experience developing New Forest Farm over the last few decades contains invaluable insight for the rest of us and serves as an example of what no-nonsense, science-based, thought-through permaculture is all about. While he many never have met him, Mark definitely has some of Bill Mollison's spirit about him in the way he approached things (and like Bill draws on a background in studying ecology).
It's refreshing to read someone who not only knows what they are talking about but who is able to convey the reasons why it is important in such a clear and engaging way.
The main value of this book I feel is not to teach the reader how to replicate what Mark has done exactly (though with some training and experience you could), but rather to make a really compelling case for why we need to understand the trouble our food system is in around the world and how we need to change the way we think and act in order to fix it. The fact that (apart from maybe a small handful of others) he is the only one to have actually created a fully functioning, closed loop, ecologically healthy, food producing, economically viable polycultural farm, only makes it more compelling.
Definitely well worth a read.