Farming is one of those things where there is no substitute for hands on experience and first hand learning. Even pasture walks and farm tours are a great way to see what other farmers are doing and how they handle problems and challenges. The bad news is that it isn’t always possible to learn first hand from an expert. Books can often help fill in some of the gaps and give you ideas and starting points for things to try on your own farm. Winter often leaves a slow season when outside work diminishes and there is plenty of time for researching and learning by the wood stove with a hot drink at hand.
One of our most asked questions is what books do we recommend. And while I could literally list pages of books that I have read and want to read, I put together a list of our most favorites that we turn to year after year.
In no particular order…
Dirt into Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture by Gabe Brown
The Brown’s were thrown into no/minimal input farming when Mother Nature destroyed FOUR years of harvests in a row. Rising from near disaster, Gabe and his family have taken tragedy and turned it on it’s head and started farming in a way that not only saved them, but also healed the land. The way the Brown’s now farm has traveled to others around the world.
If you ever get the chance to hear Gabe, or his son Paul, speak, take it. They are both excellent speakers and genuinely nice people. (They even helped me with my dissertation.)
Growing a Revolution: Bringing our Soil Back to Life by David Montgomery
Dr. Montgomery does a fabulous job of explaining just how we are damaging and losing our soil. Even better he offers real world examples on how farmers around the world are rebuilding their soils in a variety of climates and production models. No matter how or where you farm, there are practical steps you can take to help your soil.
No Risk Ranching and Comeback Farms by Greg Judy
Want to farm but don’t have land or livestock? Then Greg Judy is the resource for you. Even if you already have land and cattle, Judy teaches you how to run a profitable operation on a shoestring budget- without sacrificing the land, animal care or your sanity.
Land, Livestock and Life and Knowledge Rich Ranching by Allan Nation
Allan Nation was the long time editor before his death a few years ago of Stockman Grass Farmer, a publication dedicated to profitable grass based livestock farming (Kyle has had several articles accepted by Stockman). In addition to offering practical livestock advice, Nation offers insights on cattle cycles, business practices and more. You can grow the best beef in the world, but it won’t make for a profitable enterprise if you cannot get a handle on the business side of things.
Trees of Power by Akiva Silver
One of the main pillars of regenerative agriculture is diversity- diversity in what you grow and diversity of business enterprises. Silver’s book details how to start, propagate and profit from a variety of tree species and enterprises.
“Partnering with trees allows us to build soil, enhance biodiversity, increase wildlife populations, grow food and medicine and pull carbon out of the atmosphere.”