tea time

A conversation between the farmwives…

Coree’s wondering…

If, in some imaginary world, you found yourself plopped down on a new and unfamiliar farm without a mentor, what three books, OR authors would you want with you to help you get things rolling?  Now ~ of course you’re also drawing on a number of years of experience at this point, and that’s where we really tap in, but I know there are times that I just need to check a reference, or gain reassurance or inspiration for something out in the field.  It’s darn tricky to narrow it down to three, I know, but give it a shot.


Here’s mine, for this week:

Steve Solomon – Gardening When It Counts, and The Intelligent Gardener – nice reads, practical advice for the novice or experienced gardener alike.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.  Even tho we have a number of books about poultry and farm animals, gardening, crafting, living simply, etc., I find answers to my questions in this book that I don’t find in many others.  Granted, there are a lot of rambling stories that I have to skim through to get to what I want, but it’s worth it.

And then I have to lean on something for biodynamic information and inspiration.  Ultimately, even though it is not concise or or easy to read, I would choose Steiner’s Agriculture Course.  It’s the source.

How about it ladies?

Cher replies…

Mercy, Coree, this isn’t easy but I’ll give it my best. In this moment, these are my choices. Tomorrow might be entirely different. Here goes…

First of all, to cover my gardening needs, I would choose Eliot Coleman’s New Organic Grower. Hands down, without a doubt, this is our most referenced book on gardening. Mr. Coleman is an inventive, practical genius.

(Coree says… I was counting on you to put Eliot Coleman in there!)

And since farm animals are an integral part of our scene here in Bugtussle, I would choose anything by Joel Salatin. Especially his Pastured Poultry Profits or Salad Bar Beef. Plus, he’s just soooo opinionated (and I entirely agree with him) it’s a hoot to read his words.

And finally, I’m having a hard time deciding which I would use more… something dealing with Biodynamics, like Steiner’s Agriculture course or more practically, Peter Proctor’s Grasp the Nettle; Or something dealing with food and food preservation (which is one of the primary reasons that I found myself as a farmer!) like Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation, or his new one The Art of Fermentation. In this moment I’m leaning towards the latter. I must be getting hungry and you all know how I love my kimchi.

Oh, dear, I just remembered Allan Savory’s Holostic Resource Management. And if you are plopped down in the middle of a new and unfamiliar farm, this might be an excellent choice for goal setting and overall farm planning.

I kind of cheated, but I did my best… xo – cher

p.s.  Now, I just realized that I didn’t even mention any titles dealing with Permaculture. And if said farm is on the small side, I would go this route… maybe something by Bill Mollison.

Robin chimes in, Cher you did cheat, but in adding more than 3 you covered so many of the ones i would have chosen. so my hope is,  we are plopped down near enough to each other to borrow from each other’s limited libraray!  in this case, i am simply adding to an already near perfect list.

for Biodynamics i would add Maria Thun’s Gardening for Life.  so easy to use it is just packed with information. Hugh Lovel’s A Biodynamic Farm with its journalistic style is also one i have read more than once.

i have to admit i would be nowhere without my field guides, especially if i landed  in a new region, i would have to add an appropriate wildflower and tree field guide if nothing else. my worn copy of Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky is oft used by adults and kids alike around here. i just remembered the birds, need the bird guide. i will stop now or you might just be able to tell how many field guides we have in this house.

to support the community building which i would inevitably do again, my CSA farmer self is inspired over and over gain by Trauger Groh. Farms of Tomorrow and Farms of Tomorrow Revisited written with Steven McFadden, Anytime i need reassurance of the value of the work we do to not only farm sustainably but build a community around the future of this farm, i echo back to Traugher’s words.

ok, i will stop now, i could go on and on but i suppose i am already over my top 3! happy reading, when winter comes of course….robin

3 thoughts on “tea time

  1. We love the Wise Encyclopedia of Gardening for good old fashioned basic information on how and when to plant. The Rodale Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening has also been a staple in our house for a great many years, longer in fact that the Wise (which we came across in an antique store). Then my newest go to book would be Ruth Stout’s Now Work Garden Book. From Ruth I learned the value of mulch and I would no longer recommend someone start gardening without understanding the extent to which mulch can make gardening life easier. Like Cher I left out the wide variety of permaculture and seed saving books which I also consider to be essential, but these cover the absolute basics

  2. These are great! So grateful to you FarmWives for sharing. I am excited to add a few books to my bedside table. I love Traugher Groh’s Farms of Tomorrow and remember when he was in Tennessee for the Biodynamic Festival at Jeff’s! He handwrote a beautiful Steiner prayer inside the front cover. Have y’all seen Barbara Damrosch’s (Eliot Coleman’s wife) called GARDEN PRIMER? It’s a good one for gardening. My husband Robbie has been very inspired by the book Gaia’s Garden lately–mostly involves permaculture principles. And one of my most favorites for cooking and food traditions is FULL MOON FEAST by Jessica Prentice. This is an absolute MUST READ!

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