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

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

The Resilient Farm
and HomesteadThe kind of books I love the most are inherently flawed, so let me start with the flaws up front in case they're enough to scare you away (and then I'll tell you why The Resilient Farm and Homestead is tied with Paradise Lot as the best book of 2013 for permaculture homesteaders to read).  Ben Falk's book jumps around between personal experience (which I adore) and rehashed theory from other books (which bores me, since I've read the originals).  The text doesn't entirely hold together and is more like reading back through our blog archives (if they were first sorted by subject), complete with more-frequent-than-you'd-like typos.

Those couple of minor flaws aside, what drew me into The Resilient Farm and Homestead is that the book is 100% genuine.  The author has been experimenting with permaculture techniques on his ten-acre Vermont farm for a decade, and he's up front about what did and didn't work...even if it  flies in the face of mainstream permaculture wisdom.  The book has many beautifully-drawn diagrams, but it's also chock-full of (equally beautiful) photos proving that Falk's methods really work.  Perhaps that's why my notes don't just hit pertinent points from the text, they also include projects the book inspired me to want to try on our own farm.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead is also handy for me, especially, because Falk is farming on my level.  Most permaculture books today focus on the urban or suburban homestead covering a fraction of an acre of land, but how do those techniques fare in more extensive settings?  At the other extreme, there are Sepp Holzer and a few other practitioners who make you want to turn hillsides into terraces and to fence in dozens of acres of pasture...with what heavy equipment?  Falk's book walks right down the middle, presenting techniques you can maintain at the few-acre scale with (primarily) hand tools.

I'm going to highlight Falk's most intriguing suggestions in this week's lunchtime series, but this is one book you owe it to yourself to read from cover to cover.  If Goldilocks were reviewing this book, she'd say, "This is not too big or too small --- it's just right!"

For an outside-the-box approach to homesteading habitation, check out Trailersteading.

This post is part of our The Resilient Farm and Homestead 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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Hi Anna,

Many moons ago a friend gave me a copy of the of The Rebel Farmer.

IMHO it would be a good book for you to get. I keep re opening it and re reading parts.

Lots of experience with real stuff. Some REALLY funny stories and some sad ones too.

I am very much looking forward to your comments about this book.

Maybe I will HAVE to buy another book?

warm regards to you both, John

Comment by John Mon Nov 4 13:39:26 2013
John --- I read and enjoyed Sepp Holzer's Permaculture. I haven't read The Rebel Farmer yet because I was hopeful that most of the information was in his newer book, plus I've been too cheap to buy a copy since they're not available new on Amazon, so cost about $30 once you factor in shipping. You might push me over the edge, though, if you think The Rebel Farmer has additional gems not found in Sepp Holzer's Permaculture?
Comment by anna Mon Nov 4 16:11:49 2013

Hi Anna,

I don't know. I have only read the rebel farmer.

I have noticed that I often read about something new and think: Oh I read that before often in rebel farmer.

The same thing is true of Now where was that post about building a bee capture box, etc.

Not sure if it's worth $30 though to find out?

Another useful site is:

warm regards to you both, John

Comment by John Tue Nov 5 03:10:48 2013

This book just made it onto my Christmas wish list. My family thinks I'm a bit hard to shop for (from their perspective - from mine, there are a ton of things I want!), so they ask for suggestions or just send me money to spend on something.

Christmas and birthday are excellent times to stock up on reading material for the rest of the year :-).

Comment by Darren (Green Change) Tue Nov 12 16:47:33 2013

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