The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Paradise Lot

Paradise LotParadise Lot is Eric Toensmeier's tale of how he tested the hypotheses he and Dave Jacke set forth in Edible Forest Gardens.  Toensmeier and his friend Jonathan Bates bought a duplex with a tenth of an acre backyard in Holyoke Massachusetts (zone 6) in January 2004, spent a year learning the site and planning out their forest garden, then they dove in and made it happen.  By 2009, salamanders, fungi, and other wild creatures had shown up in what used to be a compacted urban lot, Toensmeier and Bates had both attracted mates, and all four of them were happily grazing on the bounty produced by their forest garden.

Unlike Toensmeier's other books, Paradise Lot is fun, easy to read, and inspiring.  (Don't get me wrong, I think Perennial Vegetables and Edible Forest Gardens are seminal works, but neither is something you'd read entirely for fun, while Paradise Lot is.)  This week, I'm going to include a few highlights in a slightly-truncated lunchtime series, but I recommend you check out Paradise Lot yourself to while away a winter afternoon.  Maybe you'll end up having an epiphany and decide to try out something crazy this year, like raising silkworms for chickens.  Or maybe you'll simply enjoy reading the first book I've seen profiling the growing pains of an actual North American forest garden.  Just be aware that you'll need to keep a handle on your wallet because you'll want to try out several new species by the time the book is done.

Need more time to explore your passions?  Microbusiness Independence explains how we escaped the rat race and started making a living on the homestead.

This post is part of our Paradise Lot lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'm just catching up on some of your book reviews. You'll be pleased to know you convinced me to add this one to my Christmas wish list! I was a little concerned that it might be a bit cold-climate-specific for my situation, but I now think the general principles will translate just fine and I can substitute appropriate species where necessary.

I was specifically looking for something more practical and based on one person's experience in their own garden. I have a lot of permaculture theory books, but I often wonder how many of the suggestions have actually been tried by the authors. I also feel that some of them move around between consulting gigs, and don't really stick around to see how their plans work out over time. Or they have an army of volunteers to do all the manual labour while attending PDCs or woofing, so their systems don't need to be manageable by a single family.


Comment by Darren (Green Change) Tue Nov 12 16:45:28 2013

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