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I've been waiting for a beginner's book that incorporates some of the technical and scientific principles of cheesemaking that are essential to making consistent batches of quality cheese. My wait is over.

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This is the perfect book to read if you love flowers and love putting them together. The authors, previously dancers in the Royal Ballet, are second career florists who have operated Bloomsbury Flowers in London since 1994. Simple Flower Arranging is their second book on this subject. Their goal was to show a wider variety of designs and arrangements, many in a simpler form, than found in their previous book.

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This is the best information I have seen about understanding, treating and preventing Lyme disease. The forward by Wendy Leffel, M.D., presents a satisfying overview of the book and of the controversy within the medical community about diagnosis and treatment. The author dedicates the book to "those people whose doctors told them it was all in their heads."

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Timothy Lee Scott describes positive uses for many "invasive" plants – using their innate abilities to filter wastewater, absorb heavy metals, fix nitrogen, stop erosion and revitalize depleted soil. He also delineates potential health benefits for humans, since many such plants have a long history of successful medical use in Asia: for cancers, infectious diseases and other ills.

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Get this book now! As the abundance arrives from local farms and gardens, you'll want to be inspired to try MOFGA member and Portland resident Elise Richer's many unique recipes for our Maine foods.

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In Fair Food, Oran Hesterman reviews our current food system and measures needed to make it equitable, diverse, ecological and economically viable for all. Hesterman, with a Ph.D. in agronomy, is president and CEO of Fair Food Network, a nonprofit dedicated to building a more just and sustainable food system. Previously he led the Integrated Farming Systems and Food and Society Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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With Growing Strawberries Organically you start planning for organic strawberry production by thinking about your site, marketing options and promotion. On your way to harvest you get thorough discussions of basic soil management, weed management, cover cropping and more. This book covers quite a bit of basic organic practices relative to strawberry growing, along with specific practices.

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Blackberry Books has published What You Should Know: A Field Guide To Three Sisters Farm, a collection of poems by Russell Libby. Russell was a farmer, husband, father, native Mainer, Bowdoin graduate and executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Russell was also a poet, and these poems are a documentary work describing the soil, the air, the water, the trees, the gardens and the family life lived by Russell at his farm, Three Sisters Farm, in Mount Vernon, Maine. Russell died in 2012 but left these poems of love and life, for his family, his friends, his beloved land.

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My mother handed me a copy of this book, so I assumed the word “dirty” was not indicative of an X-rated tale. That indeed turned out to be the case. However, sex was definitely not omitted from this story of desire (author’s), propagation (crops), fecundity (cows) and appetite (for home-cooked, local, organic food).

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In 2005, MOFGA, OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) and NEON (Northeast Organic Network) jointly produced the Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management. In 2008 some of the same authors thought it was time to expand and update the book. Taking the lead this time, MOFGA applied for and received a SARE (USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant. Now, five years later, the second edition of the Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management is available.

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Who would have thought that a book about moss would be interesting enough to actually read? Not I. But when a friend put the book in my hands and told me for the third time that I would like it, I gave it a try.

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In 2010, in response to criticisms about hiring foreign farm labor, the United Farm Workers challenged Americans to take jobs harvesting crops. Richard Horan did just that, visiting several U.S. farms throughout 2011 and writing a chapter about each one.

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Green IntelligenceThis is a book for everyone dedicated to environmental policy reform. Examining several sources of chemical pollution, John Wargo offers counterintelligence to the status quo, which has allowed a military-inspired proliferation of biocides that put humans and ecosystems at risk worldwide.

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The Small-Scale Poultry FlockHarvey Ussery’s The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is a comprehensive manual for integrating poultry into a whole-systems agricultural approach. The text, complemented by plenty of full-color illustrations, makes a strong case for raising birds in a way that benefits personal lifestyles and the planet on a grand scale.

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Permaculture HandbookAfter publishing and editing the Permaculture Activist magazine for 20 years, creating Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina and then moving to Bloomington, Indiana, to start a suburban farm, Peter Bane has consolidated his years of experience and knowledge into a permaculture tome.

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This is the book you want to sit down with once holiday festivities subside – a book to simply, thoroughly enjoy. We all know that when moving to a new area, the way to find out when to plant what, what to plant, where to get the best seedlings, and so forth, is to ask our gardening neighbors. Colburn did just that, and more.

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GreenhornsGreenhorns captures the voices of the next generation of American farmers, whose first-hand accounts chronicle the trials and tribulations and the joys and rewards of becoming a farmer. The most evocative part of this book is its diversity of voices. Some of the writing is polished and professional, and it is no surprise to find that these contributors are professional writers. Other contributors capture so completely the emotional power of farming; the expletives that pepper their descriptions evoke passion and make them incredibly readable, hilarious and moving.

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The Orchard: A MemoirWhen Theresa Weir married an apple farmer 25 years ago, she had a gut feeling that his family’s use of pesticides on its large orchard might not be the safest practice. A young woman then, she knew nothing of organic farming practices or the potentially devastating effects of such bugs as the codling moth, against which pesticides protected apple trees. So she kept her discomfort to herself, hoping her gut feeling was wrong.

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Chasing Chiles – Hot Spots Along the Pepper TrailPut an agronomist, a chef and an ethno­botanist in a van and what do you get? A “spice odyssey” with three gastronauts in their “spice ship” searching for fiery and flavorful peppers in their myriad forms – and seeing effects of “climate weirding” on peppers and on the lives of those who harvest and cook with them.

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Grow Fruit NaturallyIn Grow Fruit Naturally, Reich further inspires and instructs, continuing in his clear and concise but thorough way. Grow Fruit Naturally begins with “the basics”: Planning Your Fruit Garden; Planting and Growing; Pruning; Pests and Diseases; and Harvesting and Storage.

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Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from ToxicantsAmong the many commentators who examine public-health implications of industrial-chemical pollution is Carl Cranor, a professor of philosophy. He joins a number of prominent doctors, lawyers, toxicologists and other academic researchers, along with top-tier journalists, all making the moral argument that we should not be poisoned involuntarily by dangerous toxicants circulating in the marketplace.

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The Complete Book of PotatoesPotatoes are grown worldwide, adapt to a wide range of growing conditions and provide a good source of nutrients and fiber. Given its diversity and Andean origins, the humble potato offers great potential for sustainable and organic growers, even on marginal land. In this book, De Jong et al. provide general guidelines about how best to grow potatoes using organic or conventional practices.

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City ChicksIf you wondered what City Chicks is about, the subtitle spells it out: “keeping micro-flocks of chickens as garden helpers, compost creators, bio-recyclers and local food suppliers.” From coops to poop, Patricia Foreman explains why chickens are a natural fit for urban neighborhoods and how keeping them makes your garden grow.

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McKay Jenkins gets us up and about in this engaging exposé based on body-burden studies – bioassays that show high levels of industrial chemicals in the blood and urine of every subject tested. He walks us through the aisles of a store, identifying consumer goods that contain the most-toxic plasticizers: in particular phthalates (in soft plastics and in synthetic fragrances), bisphenol A (in hard plastic and in tin-can linings), perfluorinated chemicals (in Teflon coatings and stain repellents), brominated flame retardants (in polyurethane foam, fabric, electronics, etc.).

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New Maine CookingJean Ann Pollard – one of the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers in Maine (with her husband, Peter Garrett) and a long-time champion of local organic foods – has had her successful 1987 cookbook reprinted. With the emphasis on local, seasonal foods that has joyfully grown in recent years, her book is a welcome addition, providing creative and delicious ways to use those foods.

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Growing, OlderFor more than 40 years, Joan Dye Gussow has grown her own food along the banks of the Hudson River. She also created and teaches the Nutritional Ecology program at Columbia University and, at 81, still lectures nationwide. Her first two books, This Organic Life and The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology, helped pioneer the local-food movement.

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Wild Blueberry BookMaine has an estimated 6.5 million distinct clones of wild blueberries. Wild blueberries can lower cholesterol and protect against urinary tract infections and macular degeneration. A blueberry smoothie is an excellent way to start the day. The Japanese eat blueberry pizza.

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"What does it take ... to become a true insect poet?" Hugh Raffles muses, in one of several profiles of artists and writers who share his own fascination with insect morphology and behavior.

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The Resilient GardenerFirst there was ‘localism,” now “survivalism” – an approach to gardening in increasingly erratic weather or personal hard times. “Hard times happen. They happen in the lives of every individual creature, the histories of every country and culture, the evolution of every species. They come in all sizes and shapes. They may affect just you, or they may affect your entire neighborhood, country or planet…” So begins Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener.

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The Eat Local CookbookTwo new cookbooks by Maine authors will have your mouth watering. Mainers who have been getting food from their own gardens, from farmers’ markets or other local venues for a long time may remember (and may still have) Sandy Garson’s 20-year-old book, How to Fix a Leek … Garson published the revised edition partly to counter widespread health problems that can occur when contaminated industrial food moves around the country; and partly to remind people what’s in season when and how to prepare and store it.

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Sandra Steingraber – ecologist, mother, cancer survivor – has been compared with Rachel Carson as a scientist and essayist. And in her most recent book, Raising Elijah, Steingraber links environmental pollutants and health, writing on a personal level and blending science and memoir. But Steingraber also speaks here as a warrior, a parent determined to protect her children – and all children – from the polluted and climate-challenged world they have inherited.

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The Town That Food SavedA 2008 article in The New York Times portrayed the town of Hardwick, Vermont, as enjoying a strong local food system due in large part to the entrepreneurial efforts of several newcomers to the area. This characterization did not sit too well with old-time food practitioners in the area, who either felt ignored or at least underappreciated, or who didn't like the sudden media attention paid to their quiet rural community.

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This book helps growers understand how to manage crop rotations, build better soils, control weeds and pests, and develop profitable farms. To do that, Mohler and Johnson go to those who know best – researchers, extension educators and organic growers – and cram a vast amount of information, including checklists and worksheets, into this relatively thin volume.

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Queen of the SunQueen of the Sun is a gorgeous video about the importance and predicament of bees. It takes us around the world visiting organic and biodynamic beekeepers, seemingly the ultimate optimists even in the face of the drastic decline in bee populations; and it contrasts the lush and diverse habitats these beekeepers create or conserve for the bees with what are essentially, from a bee’s point of view, the deserts of industrial agriculture.

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This Life Is in Your HandsThis is a stunning memoir of the author’s early childhood growing up in the 1970s on Greenwood Farm, the back-to-the-land homestead of Eliot and Sue Coleman, in Harborside, Maine.

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The Real DirtSo, here we are in the twenty-tens talking once again about the national food system’s utter dependence on fossil fuels for every phase of its production and distribution (and disposal), and about New England’s lonely place at the end of the national food supply route and New England’s coincidental position at the end of the energy pipeline.

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The Blueberry YearsThe Blueberry Years lovingly, and in vibrant, story-telling prose, describes a 10-year attempt to provide homestead-style supplemental income by raising an acre of pick-your-own highbush blueberries.

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Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet spotlights successful agricultural innovations and major successes in preventing food waste, building resilience to climate change and strengthening farming in cities.

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Why are birds falling from the skies, their numbers crashing in mass extinctions? Henk Tennekes has an answer: He cites evidence in this book that the species suffering dramatic losses (mostly out of public view) in the past two decades – sparrows, swifts, starlings and many other insectivores – are struggling to find food, as insects such as beetles, springtails and earthworms are being wiped out by neonicotinoid insecticides, chiefly imidacloprid and clothianidin.

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Sandra Steingraber lets us into her life in this beautiful film, shot in and around places she calls home. She wants viewers to know what she and her scientist colleagues are learning about cancer-causing chemicals, information shared only rarely by doctors with their patients. We travel with her along the Illinois River, back to the industrial heartland where high cancer rates are linked with chemicals used in agriculture and manufacturing.

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The Sound of a Wild Snail EatingThis book is a treasure. “Beautiful,” says Edward O. Wilson. The text by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, illustrations by Kathy Bray and book design by Anne Winslow all show tremendous care and love for this little subject, the woodland snail.

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Through the Eyes of a Stranger – Yaro Tales Book OneWill Bonsall is well known to Common Ground Fair enthusiasts for his in-depth knowledge and practice of homestead food production and germplasm preservation, and for his entertaining talks at the Fair about those subjects. Reading Through the Eyes of a Stranger is like spending time in a futuristic Will’s World, a world that exists five centuries after the Calamitous Times (the 21st century) destroyed societies, when the new society in Esperia has returned to living fairly well.

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The Locavore’s HandbookNew York writer and edible plants expert Leda Meredith takes a refreshing new approach in The Locavore’s Handbook, translating her year-long experiment eating local foods into a compact and accessible manual on how to find, store and prepare local foods with limited space and a fixed food budget.

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Radical HomemakersShannon Hayes and her family live on Sap Brush Hollow Farm in New York and, like the many families she interviewed for Radical Homemakers, she values family, community, quality food and meaningful labor more than money.

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Smart By NatureSmart by Nature documents projects of numerous K-12 educators, parents and others who are helping young people learn the why and how of sustainable living. The book first addresses ways schools are reforming their food programs and teaching students about food, through school gardens, farm-to-school programs, tax measures and more.

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A Chemical Reaction tells us that unless you live in Maine or Vermont, or seven other states, you are barred by preemption laws – laws put in place by the chemical industry to prohibit town and city residents having pesticide restrictions more stringent than those governing their state. So activists in Maine have an opportunity to lead – an option foreclosed to pesticide reformers in most other states.

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Edible and Medicinal MushroomsThese two Maine mycologists’ books make the idea of harvesting wild or cultivated mushrooms, for culinary and/or medicinal or other purposes, seem like something that the beginner can and should do. Unlike most field guides that cover hundreds of mushrooms, these two are limited to the more common and useful Maine mushrooms.

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Anyone who wants to efficiently and effectively water vegetable and flower gardens, trees and shrubs, large crop fields or cozy porch-side containers should pick up a copy of Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates. With patience and precision, author Robert Kourik outlines everything a grower needs to know to use drip irrigation successfully.

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We have lots of room to grow food in Maine and we tend to think in terms of small farms and backyard gardens, but I think about all the people in the bulging metropolises and how insecure they may feel if they begin to worry about climate change and peak oil. I think of the suburbs as the way the cities can be fed: all those yards and excess parking lots, and all the compostable goods, water and human waste right on the spot; but I haven't written the book about such gardening yet.

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Ron Krupp’s Lifting the Yoke: Local Solutions to America’s Farm and Food Crisis is both a well-researched primer on the problems inherent to America’s food system and a well-rounded discussion on real life solutions.

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Without bees to pollinate food crops, we are in trouble, and the ongoing decimation of bees by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is, according to Michael Schacker, a crisis that we must confront and resolve without delay. He does not share the opinion of EPA and USDA officials and academic researchers that the definitive cause of CCD remains unproven. Pointing to actions taken in France, where neonicotinoid pesticides have been banned and where bees have since rebounded, Schacker calls on U.S. regulators to follow suit.

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John Carroll’s lively, optimistic, wide ranging and comprehensive look at the future of agriculture in northern New England makes a convincing case that this region can produce much more of the food that is consumed here.

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If you already know about the benefits of local and organic food, compact fluorescent bulbs, Energy Star appliances and no-VOC paint, it’s easy to turn a jaded eye to books that highlight “earth-saving” tips and “green shopping” suggestions. Don’t pass by the new 400-page tome Big Green Purse, though: It’s an absorbing, well-researched guide on how to take sustainable living to the next level, wherever you are in the process.

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Through interviews with some 100 people involved in Maine agriculture and fisheries, Merry Hall covers a range of efforts to bring more local food to Maine people, efforts that support our communities and ecosystems.

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Vermont homesteader Sharon Zecchinelli has been fighting the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) head-on, and in 2007, during National Novel Writing Month, she created this fictionalized account of that work.

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Put this book on your holiday shopping list for anyone who loves gardening and photographing plants and gardens. It’s worth its price just for the exquisite close-ups of flowers and insects – but gives the reader much more.

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This is a fun little book that I was going to dismiss but picked up instead, started reading, and didn’t put down until I reached page 252 – often reading excerpts aloud to my patient family. From its geology to its history, politics, famous crimes, place names and more, our wonderful state is detailed entertainingly in Maine 101.

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Our bodies are amazing and amazingly complex. For instance, a single square inch of skin breaks down into: 9,500,000 cells, 65 hairs, 650 sweat glands, 78 yards of nerves, and thousands of other nerve endings, pressure and sensory stimuli, glands and fibers. More than a guide of body care practices and products, Organic Body Care Recipes is a textbook of fun and factual knowledge.

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Small-Scale Grain RaisingExperienced with 30 more years of backyard grain growing, Gene Logsdon has refined his classic Small-Scale Grain Raising for today’s home gardeners and small farmers.

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Tomorrow's TablePamela Ronald is a professor of plant pathology and chair of the Plant Genomics Program at the University of California, Davis. Her husband, Raoul Adamchak, manages the certified organic market garden at the UCal Davis Student Farm. Together they wrote Tomorrow’s Table – Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food (2008, Oxford University Press) to explain crop genetic engineering (GE) and organic farming, to recommend judicious use of GE in organic farming in order to help feed the 9.2 billion people who are projected to populate Earth by 2050, and to protect the environment in the process.

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Through the Wild Heart of MaryGail Faith Edwards' delightful book, Through the Wild Heart of Mary; Teachings of the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary and the Herbs and Foods Associated with Them, leads us down the worn stone cobbles of Monte San Giacomo. We meet the author's friends and neighbors whose daily lives are rooted deeply in the rich soil of their gardens, even as their faith in the Madonna carries spirits aloft.

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Notes on a Lost FluteKerry Hardy grew up in Lincolnville, Maine, close to nature. A landscape designer and former director and education coordinator at Merryspring Nature Park in Camden and Rockport, Hardy has woven his interests (bicycling, hiking, hunting, reading …) and knowledge into essays about those who lived in New England before (and since) Europeans arrived.

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Taking on a superhero name and an inflated sense of mission, New York City writer Colin Beavan spent a year systematically trying to eliminate his ecological wake: eating local foods, cutting out all packaging and new purchases, traveling only by foot and bike, going without electricity (mostly), reducing water use and volunteering for local environmental projects. His amusing and thought-provoking account of that journey – taken with his fashion-conscious wife and young daughter – appears in the book No Impact Man (as well as a documentary, both of which grew from his blog,

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Philip and Alice Shabecoff have taken on the tremendous challenge of identifying the most formidable threats to public health – not only emissions and effluents from heavy metals and solvents used in manufacturing (the oversight of which is left entirely to regulators) – but also many chemicals in consumer products that we can choose to reject once we are made aware of the toxic tradeoffs.

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I have craved Lehman's Cast Iron Apple Grinder for years, but at more than $200, it is out of the question. So every year I borrow a cider press and make due with the grinder it comes with (usually a homemade contraption that works poorly) or my meat grinder or electric blender. So I was intrigued by Herrick Kimball's book.

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Business HandbookOver a decade ago, Richard Wiswall, of Cates Farm in Plainfield, Vermont, realized it was time to start farming smarter instead of farming harder. This book is a useful guide to how you, too, can make your farm more profitable. Wiswall focuses on growing the crops that have the highest net profit on his farm.

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The three farmers profiled by talented writer Lisa M. Hamilton in Deeply Rooted leave the reader filled with hope. Texas organic dairy farmer Harry Lewis extols the virtues of pasture: "It isn't a standard to be met," writes Hamilton of Lewis' philosophy of pasture; "it is a principle. Either you have it or you don't. 'We all realize the golden rule for organics is pasture,' he [Lewis] says. 'But people take that lightly.'" Not Lewis. Pasture, for his farm, is far from the "penitentiaries" of 1,000- to 5,000-cow operations that "ain't farmin.'"

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Traveling Naturally in FranceTraveling Naturally in France is a must read for anyone planning a trip to France or for any traveler with a conscience. The book applies all the standard techniques of a travel guide – such as insider tips on where to wine and dine – but with a twist influenced by a growing awareness of what Vermont author Dorian Yates terms the "ever-increasing environmental degradation that plagues our planet."

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Book coverNot the first to write about living off the land – as anyone perusing the Maine section of a library or bookstore might notice – Rebecca Laughton offers a fresh perspective about how to celebrate the joys of hard work inherent in a land-based lifestyle.

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Illustrated Guide to GardeningThis mainstream book is notable because it recommends only organic practices. The average homeowner can now consult an encyclopedic but highly readable reference book and know how to plant and maintain a lawn, vegetable garden, shrub border and more without using toxic pesticides or highly soluble synthetic fertilizers.

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Cultivating LifeCultivating Life by Sean Conway and Lee Alan Buttala is pure fun. Its 125 projects come from Conway and Buttala’s television show and are beautifully photographed by Webb Chappell.

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Winter Harvest HandbookEliot Coleman’s valuable, self-published The Winter Harvest Manual is now updated, expanded, more accessible and less likely to get lost on your bookshelf with this attractive, highly readable book. In The Winter Harvest Handbook, Coleman details his three decades of experiences with extending the growing season in New England.

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In The End of Food, Paul Roberts takes readers on an agricultural journey, from the time of hunter-gatherers to today’s low-cost (so-to-speak), high volume, industrial system.

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This book by Beth H. Harrison, Ph.D., poses far more searching questions than its title would suggest. It unmasks the villains in the tragic farce that has allowed the biotech industry to subject millions of unsuspecting consumers to a mass feeding experiment.

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Complete Book of GarlicSerious, indeed. This heavyweight book is loaded with information about the history, botany, horticulture, medicinal qualities and cuisine of garlic. Meredith takes readers from the origins of the wild crop to the myriad groups and cultivars grown worldwide today

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In 2007 a quarter of honeybee populations worldwide were discovered to have disappeared. The reader who wants to know what is causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) may go straight to chapter 4 of Fruitless Fall.

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In nine essays, Linda Tatelbaum, self-described “certified organic tree-hugging hippie professor,” writes poetically about her back-to-the-land life in Appleton, Maine, with her husband, Kal, and son, Noah; about her parents; about gardens, streams, students and, of course, trees

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Nena Baker concludes the introduction to her carefully documented book with the declaration that "[f]or more than three decades, the chemical industry, with the complicity of our elected leaders, has kept us in the dark about the toxicity of everyday substances and successfully resisted policy efforts that would better protect the public."

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Pale innocence and the darkest of ominous coloration are brushed into these poems, perfectly wrought out of earth elements: pulsing water and soil and radiant light of the Deep South.

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The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has published 2008 editions of Conifers of Maine and Biodiversity in the Forests of Maine. Conifers of Maine, the late Fay Hyland’s classic field guide, was first published in 1946.

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Gardens Maine StyleThis beautiful book of Lynn Karlin’s exquisite photos combined with Rebecca Sawyer-Fay’s clear and enthusiastic writing about gardens is a great inspiration for gardeners in and beyond Maine. Like the Maine garden year, the book opens with spring flowers – wild and cultivated – in their garden settings.

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Renewing Food TraditionsDo heirloom fruits, vegetables and livestock have any relevance in today’s world? This is the question that a coalition including American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Slow Food, the Seed Savers’ Exchange and others have been asking over the past few years.

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This entertaining, often amusing documentary follows college buddies Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis as they go from Boston to Iowa, discover their roots, and plant an acre of genetically-engineered corn using all the modern, non-organic technology available.

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Director Taggart Siegel’s film shows Illinois farmer John Peterson’s 25 years of attempts at farming – first taking up where his father stopped upon his sudden death.

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Woodbury County, Iowa, has an innovative economic development campaign centered on supporting local, organic agriculture. The Organic Opportunity tells about that campaign, beginning with a brief description of the modern U.S. diet and its dependence on unsustainable, industrialized agriculture and long-distance shipping, including bringing over half of our fresh fruit and over 20% of fresh vegetables from out of the country – with less than 0.2% being sampled for safety.

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If you have been a dedicated organic grower (or eater) for the past few decades, participating in the local farmers’ market or CSA or selling to the cafe down the street, then what Michael Pollan advocates in his latest book, In Defense of Food, won't be new to you. MOFGA's current executive director (truth in reporting: I am related to him) has been promoting “ten dollars a week” (spent on locally-produced food) and has been asking “Who's your farmer?” for years. Don't let that deter you from reading Pollan's book.

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The message of Death by Supermarket is that “if we stopped eating all factory food and ate only real food we would calm the irrational craving that compels us to eat these injurious substances. Real food is organically produced meat, fish, poultry, dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts that could (in theory) be picked, gathered, milked, hunted, or fished.”

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Among my favorite poets are Billy Collins, Mariana Tupper, Gary Lawless and Russell Libby. What a joy to see a collection of Libby’s work in Balance – A Late Pastoral.

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The Garden PrimerTwenty years after Barbara Damrosch published The Garden Primer, the second edition of the book is coming out – with all organic recommendations for growing just about anything: flowers (including wildflowers), vegetables, fruits, lawns, trees, shrubs, herbs … it’s all here.

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Robert Kourik’s 1986 book Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally comes off my shelf regularly, for its abundance of clearly presented, specific information about gardening with edibles, and with great appreciation for Kourik’s friendly and often funny (but to-the-point) writing style. Now Roots Demystified joins that book on and off the shelf.

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Here’s a new how-to book from the writer who, in his other publications, tells so well how to make a mechanical chicken plucker, grow garlic and process it into powder, and market garlic powder

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Eight years after Sharing the Harvest was first published, Elizabeth Henderson has revised and expanded the classic on CSA farms.

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Not Far From The TreeAnyone who loves apples or loves history, or both, will also love John Bunker’s new book. Like Thoreau who traveled widely in Concord, Bunker has “made a big effort to visit all the apple trees in town …” as well as numerous trees around Maine. In the 190-page, self-published, large-format paperback, Bunker consolidates his 35 years of “climbing apple trees around town, collecting, storing and eating fruit, pressing cider, learning to identify the varieties, grafting young trees and listening to stories from the old timers.”

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Farmer Pirates & Dancing CowsThose who were moved by Lynn Miller’s rousing keynote speech at the 2004 Common Ground Country Fair – and anyone who values non-industrial farming and/or farming with horses – will enjoy this latest collection of the renowned and outspoken farmer’s essays

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Bradley’s book lives up to its subtitle: “The best and latest advice for beating pests, diseases, and weeds and staying a step ahead of trouble in the garden.” Her underlying theme throughout the book is that healthy plants are more resistant to problems than stressed plants.

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Weather resilient gardens and landscapes can withstand a number of pressures, Smith declares. His book provides detailed advice on what to do when a weather disaster strikes, and includes a useful encyclopedia of 100 hardy plants to help you garden defensively.

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Tidbits about state and county fairs combine with prize-winning recipes from fairs – one from each state, some heavy with less-than-healthy ingredients. Maine’s recipe, New York Style Half-Sour Pickles, by Adam Tomash, is from the Common Ground Fair and is made with real ingredients, most of which can come from your own garden.

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A Mystic GardenConnecticut gardener Gunilla Norris writes beautifully about seasonal parallels between gardening and living: how humans are like bare-root roses, with the need to be “swaddled, sheltered, and fed.” Do weeds have a right to exist, as enemies do? If so, how? After edging the garden, Norris asks, “Could we use an edger on ourselves as well, to keep out interactions that are not ours to be in?”

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Danaan’s unique style of garden writing combines the “how to” with spiritual insights about plants, gardens and, sometimes, spirits.

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After Kate Braestrup’s husband was killed in a car accident, the young mother took up his dream to become a chaplain. Now a Lincolnville, Maine, writer and chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, she has crafted her inspirational memoir beautifully.

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Small-Batch PreservingNeed a last minute holiday gift? Got a few cups of raspberries in the freezer? Here are recipes for making and canning raspberry jam, raspberry-blueberry jam, and more – in batches of about two to eight cups.

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When Barbara Kingsolver and her family began planning a year-long immersion in their local foodshed, the concept seemed original. By the time they completed an account of their year as “locavores,” regional eating had entered the mainstream – powered by the Slow Food movement, food safety concerns, and books such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

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An impressive array of artworks on display now through December 9 at the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston is brought together under the themes of “sustainability” and “green.”

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I recently started rereading Dorothy Hartley's classic food and household history cookbook, Food in England, stimulated by the exciting reports in the May-June 2007 MOF&G about the Terra Madre Slow Food meetings in Italy, and the ongoing exploration of traditional and folk food technology.

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This field guide, the first of its kind, is a must-have for the butterfly gardener who wants to know whether those wormy plant-eating critters are in fact young butterflies-to-be. Those who want a guide that distinguishes moth caterpillars from those of butterflies will have to wait.

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Pawlick, a science reporter, begins his book with his return to Canada after living in Italy, home of fresh, delicious, nutritious food, for eight years. He buys a tomato at the grocery store, only to find that it is tasteless, never really ripens, and bounces off a wall (rather than splattering) when thrown. He begins to wonder: What’s happened to our food?

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The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible has been on and off my shelf since it was published. I’ve enjoyed it over the years when I’ve checked it for pest control or other cultural techniques related to organic gardening. Smith’s newer work, describing growing vegetables in containers that are “self-watering” through various capillary systems, is just as inviting as his previous book.

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With the effects of climate change becoming more and more obvious, we're seeing that change won't be as simple as milder winters and longer growing seasons. As this past winter and spring have evidenced, we can probably count on weather that's generally more erratic than we're used to: mud seasons in January followed by record breaking cold, then early thaws and April blizzards. How timely, then, that this book has been published.

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Organic Lawn Care ManualWith The Organic Lawn Care Manual, Paul Tukey and Storey Publishing have done their part to save the world. In this attractively produced, easily read book, the writer and publisher have clearly and invitingly stated the reasons for abandoning toxic lawn care practices.

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Human Sacrifice has little to do with farming or gardening – but a lot to do with a particular farmer, Dennis Dechaine, who has been in the Maine State Prison since 1988, serving a life sentence for the murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry.

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About three years ago, I started baking artisan, sourdough bread, and the idea of making my own wood-fired oven appealed to me.  Until the fall of 2006, I had planned on building a wood-fired, brick oven. It was difficult to start the project, though, because it seemed so complicated. Then a friend suggested I make a clay oven instead.

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Looking for a quick, funny, poignant, intelligent novel to pass a winter’s day? Pick up The Canning Season. This National Book Award Winner is about two old, twin sisters who live contentedly in a big old house on the Maine coast, way out in logging territory, among blueberries and bears. Their remote and peaceful way of life changes when two teenage girls with issues show up.

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Organic, Inc.Business writer and organic food enthusiast Samuel Fromartz opens his Organic, Inc., with the lawsuit that Maine organic blueberry grower Arthur Harvey filed against then Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman for allowing national organic standards that did not comply with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. In part, the standards permitted some synthetic, nonorganic ingredients in processed foods labeled as organic; and reduced the 100% organic feed requirement for cows transitioning to organic production.

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When I pick up a book, I often flip to the table of contents before reading the jacket flap. What enticed me to take home From Grass to Gardens was not just the cover photo of peppers, cabbages, broccoli and flowers, but the chapter titled “the grass extermination project.” As a veteran of the turf wars, I am always looking for advice, tips and helpful hints on vanquishing that tireless foe.

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In this anthology of endangered species poetry, 59 U.S. and Canadian poets encourage us to increase our awareness of endangered plants and animals in North America. The editors assembled this first anthology of its type to inspire readers to act on behalf of these species.

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I used to think that if only we could get industrial wastes, with their multitude of toxic metals, carcinogenic organic compounds and other frightening things, out of municipal sewage, then that sewage would be ok to use as a fertilizer. I had it completely backwards. Since reading The Humanure Handbook – A Guide to Composting Human Manure, I realize that what we really need to do is get the humanure (human manure – a resource, not a waste product) out of the waste stream, compost it, and use it as fertilizer.

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Even if you never want to have a horse or donkey, and your future travel plans don’t include Italy, you’ll find in these two books a fascinating glimpse of what it means to be closely connected to a piece of land. Etain Addey and her partner Martin Lanz farm in the northwest of Italy.

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Corporate farms differ little from the slave-holding plantation farms of the past; corporations are just a little subtler in how they disenfranchise classes and races. They’re not very subtle in how they’re destroying the earth, however, with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and with genetically-engineered crops. In order to save the earth and return its populations to democracies, we need agrarian reform.

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John Carroll is a glass-half-full kind of guy, and he knows how he wants to fill the rest of the glass and where to get the ingredients: from institutions and organizations in four states that have promoted Aldo Leopold’s land ethic as it relates to sustainable agriculture. Maine is one of those states.

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Herrick Kimball is at it again. After the success of his book Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker, readers asked Kimball if he’d develop a scalder for those birds. He did, and in the current book – which is clearly and humorously written and superbly illustrated – he tells and shows how you can build a basic scalder for about $300 using a 40-gallon propane water heater; a dunker frame for about $125; improve temperature control for some $250; and build an automatic dunker for about $400.

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Reading Arborsculpture – Solutions for a Small Planet made my day, and maybe my year or years. In his self-published book, Richard Reames introduces the concept and practice of growing trees into shapes such as chairs, benches, tables, houses, cathedrals, peace signs and more. I’m inspired to grow a tree house!

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Rob Fish and Deborah Koons-GarciaAn award-winning filmmaker, Koons Garcia studied the medium at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, then at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. The Future of Food shows her deep understanding of the biology of genetic manipulation and of the politics behind the unsavory takeover of our food system. The 80-minute film is professionally and beautifully crafted.

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This gentle, humorous, beautifully crafted book is perfect for parents to read to young children and for early readers to enjoy themselves. The text describes the everyday life of Alan Lewis as he grew up on his parents’ New York farm. With 28 vintage, black and white photos and 12 full-color pastel pictures, the illustrations are unique as they incorporate and expand on the photos.

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Timing, in life as well as comedy, is everything. Food Politics was published in 2002 just after Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation had shocked North America. Now, a new book from a respected nutritionist (Chair of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health and managing editor of the 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition in Health) was saying that deception was endemic across the entire food industry, not just in the fast food portion.

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Rural Renaissance tells how the authors renovated their house and barn to be energy-efficient and earth-friendly (their ultimate goal is to have their business have a net zero environmental cost); how they developed a community with their neighbors; grow much of their own food; and earn incomes by renting two rooms as a B&B (Inn Serendipity) and a cabin in the woods (49%); consulting (13%); writing and photography (21%); and smaller projects.

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Carol Steinfeld begins her little book about urine by telling us that U.S. residents excrete about 90 million gallons of urine per day, or about 7 million pounds of nitrogen – approximately enough to fertilize 31,962 acres of corn in one year; and a year’s worth of U.S. urine could fertilize 11.5 million acres of corn – or a lot of home gardens.

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The author clearly, simply and entertainingly provides directions for kids ages 6 to 12 to make 17 container gardens.

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Resource GuideA new resource loaded with information on how to control insects and diseases will be available by mid-June this year. This guide was developed as a useful reference for organic farmers and agricultural professionals searching for information on best practices, available materials and, perhaps most importantly, the efficacy of materials that are permitted for use in organic systems.

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Two FarmsTwo Farms is just what you need before going to sleep at night. Whether you've been busy during the day getting beans planted, harvesting hay, chasing sheep, or taking action against immoral public policies, Janet Galle's quiet essays on country life will calm and nourish you and bring you back to a state of grounded peace.

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Living Within Our MeansFormer MOFGA apprentice Kamyar Enshayan earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and now directs the very successful Local Food Project at the University of Northern Iowa. He is "an ecologist by marriage" to Laura Jackson, a conservation biologist at UNI; and he is a seriously funny guy.

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E.B. White, author of One Man's Meat, may now have a protégé, not solely in style, but in subject matter as well. John Chisholm, an organic farmer in Levant, recently completed a book of nonfiction stories titled Frost Heaves – A Year of Farming in Levant, Maine, published by The Levant Heritage Library.

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This report is the first in a series designed to analyze the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). "The trade liberalization agenda promoted by the WTO is seriously undermining people and their human rights," says Carin Smaller, author of the report and associate at IATP's Trade Information Program. "It's time for governments to start negotiating trade policies that focus on improving people's lives rather than simply expanding trade."

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On the day after election day 2004, needing to feed something positive into my mind, I watched a video called Global Gardener – Permaculture with Bill Mollison. The video was made in 1991 but holds a message that is still (and forever) appropriate: Realizing that the protests of the ’60s were not enough to change the world, Mollison began designing “permaculture” gardens for human settlements.

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Micro-Eco-FarmingThis small book is a pep talk for would-be “micro eco-farmers” – those who earn much of their living on a fraction of an acre to five acres. It covers crops, animals, farming methods and marketing; organic spa products, front-yard cut flower stands, urban greenhouses, Shetland sheep … and more.

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Subtitled “Practical Gardening Advice for Maine’s Zone 3B and 4A,” this book is just what the plant doctor ordered for our state’s cooler-climate gardeners. In 82 pages, Ferguson covers weather, soil, landscaping and windbreaks, flower and vegetable gardening, raised beds, deck and patio gardens, compost, garden boxes, and tips for “The Other Maine” and adds, “The rest you’ll learn by doing.”

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“Civic Agriculture” is the phrase coined by Thomas A. Lyson, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Cornell University’s Department of Development Sociology. He uses it as the title of a book about agriculture – past, present and future – in which he explores the community aspect of farming.

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The global war on terror is diverting the world’s attention from the central causes of instability, reports the Worldwatch Institute in its annual State of the World 2005. Acts of terror and the dangerous reactions they provoke are symptomatic of underlying sources of global insecurity, including the perilous interplay among poverty, infectious disease, environmental degradation and rising competition over oil and other resources.

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Bringing the Food Economy Home chronicles the rise of global agribusiness, its stunning economic success, its hidden failures in ecological, food safety and rural life issues and the current rise of an “agriculture of place” or “civic agriculture” to remedy those failures.

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Shetland ponyThe key to the importance of this attractive little book is a quote on the back of the dust jacket: “Where besides Shetland do so many indigenous and endangered farm animals thrive?” Where, indeed? Just about everyone has heard of Shetland ponies, and Shetland sheep are fairly well know as well. But there are also Shetland cattle, and even Shetland geese, hens and ducks. And the original Shetland collie is a far cry from today’s “Shelties.”

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Grand Masters of Maine GardeningA doctor who hybridized irises, a homemaker who stopped traffic with the breathtaking color of her roadside gardens, a former electron-microscopist who identified the best heathers for Maine gardens: These are just three of the many subjects of Jane Lamb’s book, The Grand Masters of Maine Gardening and Some of Their Disciples.

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Useful and beautiful, inspiring and down-to-earth, The Church of the Brethren has published one of the best gardening books of 2004. If you’d like to pursue organic gardening as a family activity or dream of starting a community garden in your area, this book will gently and lovingly guide you.

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As young teens, my female friends and I would sneak into our parents’ libraries and read the books on sex out loud to each other. While the spine on this book says only “Safe Sex in the Garden,” hopeful teenagers won’t find much to help them navigate human intimacies; however, if they suffer from allergies, they (and their parents) will want to refer to the book often.

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MaddieMaddie, nearly 12 years old, lives on a family farm in Oklahoma, where her parents raise cattle. The family appreciates native flora and fauna, but their pastures are weedy, and Maddie’s father is considering using herbicides for the first time.

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Plucked and BurnedNews that arsenic, used as a feed supplement in factory-farmed chickens, remains in birds on dining room tables and at fast food restaurants, gave consumers pause to think: Maybe it’s a good idea to know who raises the chicken you eat, and how it’s raised.

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Diary of a Compost Hotline OperatorDiary of a Compost Hotline Operator gives you everything the City Farmer Web site is known for: top-notch information, and resources and links for every problem an urban (and not so urban) grower faces.

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The 17th edition of the classic Ball Redbook – now in two volumes – offers an important reference for greenhouse growers as experienced professionals discuss setting up and operating greenhouses and growing 162 potted flower, herb and vegetable crops in greenhouses.

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My review in the March-May MOF&G said that some of the details in Jean Hay Bright’s book Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life were inaccurate.

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Seeds of DeceptionSmith, who has a background in marketing, knows that genetic engineering raises many questions, but chose to focus this book solely on the health issues surrounding those genetically modified organisms we consume as part of our daily diet.

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Helen and Scott Nearing may have led the good life, but they didn’t lead the perfect life; and by omitting a few details from their not-so-perfect good life, they may have misled some of the thousands of readers of Living the Good Life, many of whom packed up and moved to rural areas after reading this bible of the back-to-the-land movement.

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Four of us live in a 1200-square-foot, smaller-than-average-American house. Passive solar and a small wood stove keep us warm. We buy “green” electricity, and most of our light bulbs are compact fluorescent. Most of the food we eat is organically grown and low on the food chain; much is from our own garden or local growers. … Yet my personal “ecological footprint” – the amount of land that my habits of consumption require – is still a little over 7 acres.

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An irresistible book on an icky subject, The Little Book of Slugs is just too cute not to buy by the handful for every gardener you know. With its flat black cover featuring the word “Slugs” in graytone and the eerie, iridescent mucus trails topped by black slugs slithering down from the lower left corner, it was the only book at my home this Christmas that everyone, gardener or not, picked up, then proceeded to read.

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Sandor KatzThe sanest place I know is my garden. With my feet in the soil, sun on my back, young shoots emerging, old growth returning to the earth, there are no lies, no profit-driven deceptions, only basic truths. In a society where these quiet truths are easily drowned out, some of us listen for and seek out the alternative voices. Sandor Katz is one of those voices.

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Like many Mainers, Marina Schauffler participated in coastal cleanup days year after year … only to find the coast littered again shortly after the cleanup. Like many, she adopted “earth-saving tips” but found that they did not address the root causes of environmental abuses. “Instead of advising people to reduce their use of lawn chemicals and to keep their cars well tuned, I wanted to suggest that they rethink grass monocultures altogether and that they bicycle instead of driving,” she writes in Turning to Earth.

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Herrick Kimball’s Homegrown StoryReaders of The MOF&G may recognize Herrick Kimball’s name from his excellent, sure-to-be-a-N.Y.Times-bestseller book, Anyone Can Build A Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker. Now Kimball’s back with a perfect little book of “down-to-earth inspiration and how-to information” about growing garlic and making and marketing garlic powder.

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Subtitled “Delicious and Healthy Meals in Less Than Half an Hour,” The Co-op Cookbook offers 100 main-dish recipes that use fresh, wholesome ingredients – the type of ingredients you’ll find at food co-ops and farmers’ markets.

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This beautifully produced book would make a great gift for a beginning gardener. Rich in photos and with just enough text for a few pleasant afternoons of reading, the book follows Stephanie Donaldson’s year of creating a Shaker garden of her own. “I wanted to see how relevant their gardening techniques were to today’s gardeners,” she writes.

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In 1972, Linda Runyon, a registered nurse, decided to leave New Jersey suburban life and take up homesteading in her beloved Adirondack Mountains with her youngest son and a family friend. Fed up with defending the garden plot against weeds, insects and other wildlife on top of her other homesteading tasks, she abandoned agriculture for foraging and managed to feed herself and her family on a wild foods diet both in the New York mountains and the Arizona desert.

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Can’t remember which accent to stress in purpureus? Wondering about the meaning of gemmifera? Gardener’s Latin is just right for such questions. This neat little book, with its gorgeous front cover and elegant little, old-fashioned illustrations throughout, will keep your language straight and will entertain you, as well, with Neal’s notes in the margins.

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Healthy Foods from Healthy SoilsElizabeth Patten and Kathy Lyons, with illustrator Helen Stevens, have created a superb book that every K-6 teacher should see and use. Sections include: Where Does Food Come From? Choosing Food for Body & Soul; Putting “Garbage” to Work; and Let’s Grow Our Own.

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Susan Hamill lives in a quiet valley in Union, Maine, and has been gardening, cooking and raising a family for there for at least 20 years. She teaches macrobiotic cooking and feeds people from her warm and friendly kitchen, and now she is working up to writing the healing cookbook that her students have been wishing and asking for.

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Earth Mother HerbalIs there no end to the herb books one “needs?” Earth Mother Herbal is yet another herbal that is produced from the heart and is full of useful information that you just … need.

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Common GroundCommon Ground is not an herbal but a fascinating read about several edible and medicinal plants with which Wood has first-hand experience. The first chapter covers many of the plants you see when you step out the door: dandelion, linden, lambsquarters, oak and more.

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A few years ago, Maine herbalist Gail Edwards “opened her wild heart” to us in her first book (Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs). She’s opened that heart even more in her new book, which is geared toward men and women going through andropause/menopause.

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Kokopelli’s Flute is about a 13-year-old boy who is named Tepary Jones, after the tepary bean. He lives on his parents’ seed farm in New Mexico, where he is the “manure specialist.”

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Greening School Grounds: Creating Habitats for Learning is an extremely helpful book for all those who recognize the importance of utilizing a school yard or community space as a readily available multidisciplinary outdoor classroom. The presently accepted pattern of large bare asphalt areas with play equipment that is similar from playground to playground is challenged, and attractive, successful alternatives presented.

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A more accurate subtitle for this book would be “A History of Genetically Engineered Food from May 1997 through 2001.” Hart, a reporter for Food Chemical News, has compiled a detailed history of genetically engineered foods from their initial hope as profit centers for the biotechnology industry to the current storm in the marketplace over whether such food should be there at all.

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This little book could have a powerful impact if used as the basis for a high school or college course, for workshops, study circles, and so on. In four short, well organized chapters, the authors discuss our food choices at the supermarket, our meal choices at and away from home, and the structure of our food system.

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Mitch Lansky is well known for his 1992 book, Beyond the Beauty Strip: Saving What’s Left of Our Forests. Ten years later, he has come out with a book of articles offering alternatives to “so much of the forestry in our region of Maine, northern New England and the Maritimes” that is “frankly, shoddy.”

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Cultivating DelightDiane Ackerman is the sort of curious naturalist who tags squirrels and documents their antics in the back yard, follows bat researchers about, and watches the moon by whale light (as she describes in her book, Watching the Moon by Whale Light.). Her writing is poetic and precise, so when Cultivating Delight hit the bookstore shelves, I was first in line.

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In this tome, Valery Mamonov spends almost 600 pages reviewing lifestyles and traits of long-lived people and presenting guidelines regarding food intake, exercise, meditation, control of emotions, sleep, sex and more that should lengthen life.

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Marilee Foster is the fifth generation in her family to plant and harvest the fields. The family farm is in Sagaponock, N.Y., part of "The Hamptons" at the east end of Long Island. Her fields are a mere 100 miles from the Big City. For the past few years, Marilee has watched, and written about, the changing seasons and the encroachment of residential development around her.

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Move over, Lonely Planet! A new type of travel guide is on the market, and it’s different not only because it highlights some lesser known places as well as some activities that aren't covered in most guidebooks. Even more importantly, The AltMaine Guide tells visitors to Maine how to give back to the state.

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How to Grow More VegetablesThe next time someone says that we need genetic engineering to feed the world, pull out Jeavons' book. The Grow Biointensive™ sustainable minifarming methods that he and the staff of Ecology Action in Willits, California, have developed over the last three decades "can make it possible to grow all the food for one's own nutrition, as well as food for the soil, on as little as 4,000 square feet," says Jeavons.

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Sustainable Agriculture & ResistanceMany articles have been written about the transformation of Cuban agriculture, from its dependence on Soviet-supplied synthetic chemical inputs and machinery to the forced low-input, more sustainable model that arose after the fall of the Soviet Union and the blockade by the United States. This book details that transition in three parts.

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In this quick-to-read mystery, Maine gardener and garden writer A. Carmen Clark introduces her heroine: 60-year-old Amy Creighton, who lives alone and works as an editor from her home in Maine. While Amy is collecting sawdust at a local sawmill to mulch her strawberries, she discovers the body of a college student who, the reader later learns, was searching for his birth parents.

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Dandelions – Stars in the GrassMia Posada has created a children’s book about a “noble breed” (dandelions) that combines accurate yet whimsical botanical art with catchy, clever words. She shows the life of the dandelion, from germination in the spring, to flowering (with bees and different species of butterflies flying around the blossoms), to seed dispersal, to self-seeding and the beginning of another cycle of growth.

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The New Farmers MarketThe definitive guide to farmers’ markets is here! Whether you’re part of a large, successful, urban farmers’ market or you are a beginning farmer who wants to start a market in your small town – or you are somewhere in between – The New Farmers’ Market is the one book you need.

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Flash back to the ice storm of ‘98, or to any other long Maine storm that restricted movement for days. Imagine a man, Peter, living as a hermit (except for his friendship with the old Passamaquoddy neighbor woman). He follows his routine – feeding the draft horse and the milk goat, visiting the outhouse, taking the dog out – then returns to his woodstove-warmed, small cabin – looks out the window to the frozen landscape – and sees a very pregnant, very pale young woman clinging to a tree, trying to make it to his cabin without falling on the ice.

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Graham Irwin and his partner, Rosemarie, spent 10 years on a “smallholding” in England, raising vegetables for themselves, eggs for sale, and various animals: sheep, goats, cattle and bees. This book takes a tender, sometimes humorous look at that time.

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A few years ago, Maine herbalist Gail Edwards self-published her herb book, Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs. It was a work that truly sprouted and flourished from Gail’s heart and spoke to the hearts of those who love plants, nature and health. Now, Opening Our Wild Hearts has been republished by Ash Tree Publishing in a format that is easier to handle and is even more beautiful.

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Gardening or small scale farming is a passion of mine, so I was anxious to read Vernon Grubinger’s book Sustainable Vegetable Production From Start-Up to Market. Vern spoke last year at MOFGA’s Organic Short Course and his talk was well worth attending and taking copious notes.

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What is America’s favorite cut of meat? Hamburgers aside, the skinless, boneless chicken breast has a clear advantage in the home kitchen with its versatility, ease of preparation and low fat content. Its use is limited only by the creativity of the cook.

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Recipes for flea and moth repellents, homemade play dough and bubble stuff, bathtub cleaner and more are here and there – on my desk, in my recipe box, in cookbooks … How many times I’ve thought to myself, “You should organize them into one neat book!”

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Early February is the true test of gardens in the Northern Hemisphere. The days are still too short to encourage new growth, and the sad remains of autumn still linger on many vines. Grey skies cast a pale light across many a sullen landscape. It doesn’t have to be this way.

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Shepherd Ogden's Straight-Ahead OrganicThis is a superb book for the beginning gardener; for the gardener who uses pesticides and synthetic chemical fertilizers and wants to get off the chemical treadmill; even for experienced gardeners who want an up-to-date review of the issues and practices involved in organic growing.

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Genetic engineering, say authors Lappé and Bailey, “is not so much a technological marvel as it is opportunistic. New genes are piggybacked onto existing genomes – the full genetic makeup of an organism – by brute force. The few plants in which such genes ‘take’ are the ones chosen for propagation.” This piggybacking is accomplished either by using bacteria or viruses to insert the novel gene, or, “More recently, genetic engineers have used a literal ‘shotgun’ approach, firing microbullets coated with DNA into plant target cells.”

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Community Supported Agriculture is a connection between a nearby farmer and the people who eat the food that the farmer produces. It’s as simple as that, writes Elizabeth Henderson – and as complex. You see, most people in the United States simply have no idea where or how their food is grown. California tomatoes are trucked to New York State supermarkets, and folks in New Orleans get their organic milk from Boulder, Colorado.

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In The Homebrewer’s Garden, the Fisher brothers – MOFGA members from Winterport – not only encourage brewing your own, but growing the brewing components as well. Discover the flavors that are possible when you grow hops, herbs, grains for malting, maybe even brewing yeast.

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This is a gorgeous, concise, provocative photo essay by a writer/photographer/ biologist who has contributed features to The MOF&G in the past. Members of MOFGA will identify completely with the content and will be pleased to see some of our “heroes” depicted within.

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This lovely book is, in fact, a journal itself, with numerous sketches and watercolors by Leslie and Roth on every page. A caveat: If you get this book now, you may end up letting more weeds than usual grow this year as you be­come inspired to observe, draw and write about the natural events that are happening around you.

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I love the idea of companion planting. I already sow cosmos among my vegetables because I know the flowers will attract beneficial insects. But I can never remember .... Do carrots love garlic? Or is it tomatoes? Fortunately, Sally Jean Cunningham pulls together “everything I ever wanted to know about companion gardening but was too embarrassed to ask because I’ve been doing this for ten years” and puts it into one not-too-thick volume.

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My husband loves the agrarian writers: Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, David Kline, Thomas Jefferson. Their essays have sustained him over the years. He will read fiction from time to time, especially if the subject matter is – well – agrarian. One of his favorite authors is British agrarian writer John Seymour, who has written any number of titles, most of which are hard to come by in this country. The State Library has two of his books, and we have one little volume which he wrote with his wife, Sally, called Farming for Self-Sufficiency.

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In addition to the Solviva title, the rest of the cover of this book reads: “Good News from the Front; Learning the Art of Living with Solar-Dynamic, Bio-Benign Design; Revealing the Truth About How We Can Provide Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Transportation, Food, Solid Waste and Wastewater Management in Ways that Reduce Pollution and Depletion of Resources by 80 Percent or More and That at the Same Time Reduce Cost of Living and Improve Quality of Life.” Not a bad goal!

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I confess that when I picked up this simple looking cookbook, I was skeptical. Another hometown cookbook. As I browsed the pages I soon realized that Paula Rougny has created an extraordinary collection of recipes that capture the essence of present day Maine. Snippets of verse, opinion and reflection are interspersed with artful sparsity, like a bay leaf in a soup, just enough for good flavor.

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I was taught in college that horticulture is the art and science of growing plants. If that is so, then Allison Mia Starcher is a true horticulturist. In Good Bugs for Your Garden, she writes, briefly, about her philosophy of gardening – including as much diversity and color as possible, encouraging beneficial insects, not trying to eradicate harmful insects, not using toxic pesticides – then charms the reader with the most delightful illustrations of beneficial organisms and their habitats.

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Spoiled by Nicholas Fox deserves a place in every library, school curriculum and on the desk of your legislator! It is a well documented, carefully researched look at our present food supply and the problems surrounding it.

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“Daikon! What can I do with a daikon radish?” That’s a question a new subscriber to Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance CSA might be afraid to ask. Each summer week, nutrition educator Nancy O’Connor has supplied such answers in the Rolling Prairie newsletter, “In The Bag.” After four years, she has added to and gathered the newsletters into Rolling Prairie Cookbook.

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The Apple Grower
• Get a Grip on Farm Finances
• Brief Reviews
   Guideline for Dairy Manure Management from Barn to Storage
   Guideline for Milking Center Wastewater
   Herbaceous Perennials Production
   Building Soils for Better Crops
   Managing Cover Crops Profitably,
2nd Edition
• Video: It’s Gotten Rotten

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• Dynamic Farmers’ Marketing
• Test Your Soil With Plants!
• The Orchard, A Memoir
• The Organic Pages

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