Title: The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living

Description: This one volume edition of Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life brings these classics on rural homesteading together. This couple abandoned the city for a rural life with minimal cash and the knowledge of self reliance and good health.

Publisher: Schocken Books

ISBN-10: 0805209700

ISBN-13: 978-0805209709

1. A classic that will inspire the most ardent of city slickers.

Title: Biophilia

Description: The eminent biologist reflects on his own response to nature and the aesthetic aspects of his exploration of natural systems in an intensely personal essay that examines the essential links between mankind and the rest of the living world.

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN-10: 0674074424

ISBN-13: 978-0674074422

1. A convincing explanation for why we have a need for biodiversity and a connection with nature.


Title: The Timeless Way of Building

Description: This volume provides the opening work in Christopher Alexander’s seminal trilogy on architecture (continued in A Pattern Language and The Oregon Experiment). Here he provides a fascinating introduction to the ideas behind the succeeding two books.

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN-10: 0908228015

ISBN-13: 978-0908228010

1. If you want to build your homestead from the ground up, you will need this book to get your planning right.
2. Usually buying this together with “A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction” is more economical.

Title: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

Description: The second of three books published by the Center for Environmental Structure to provide a “working alternative to our present ideas about architecture, building, and planning,” A Pattern Language offers a practical language for building and planning based on natural considerations. The reader is given an overview of some 250 patterns that are the units of this language, each consisting of a design problem, discussion, illustration, and solution. By understanding recurrent design problems in our environment, readers can identify extant patterns in their own design projects and use these patterns to create a language of their own. Extraordinarily thorough, coherent, and accessible, this book has become a bible for homebuilders, contractors, and developers who care about creating healthy, high-level design.

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN-10: 0195019199

ISBN-13: 978-0195019193

1. Use the right language/pattern to precisely express what you are aiming for.
2. Usually buying this together with “The Timeless Way of Building” is more economical.

Title: The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling

Description: Passive solar heating and passive cooling—approaches known as natural conditioning—provide comfort throughout the year by reducing, or eliminating, the need for fossil fuel. Yet while heat from sunlight and ventilation from breezes is free for the taking, few modern architects or builders really understand the principles involved.

Now Dan Chiras, author of the popular book “The Natural House,” brings those principles up to date for a new generation of solar enthusiasts.

In “The Solar House,” Chiras sets the record straight on the vast potential for passive heating and cooling. Acknowledging the good intentions of misguided solar designers in the past, he highlights certain egregious erros and shows how to avoid them. More importantly, Chiras explains in methodical detail how today’s home builders can succeed with solar designs.

Readers will learn:
– How to select a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly backup heating system.
– how to preserve indoor air quality in an airtight, energy-efficient home.
– ways of employing green building materials in a naturally conditioned home.

Publisher: Chelsea Green

ISBN-10: 1931498121

ISBN-13: 978-1931498128

1. Very accessible book that clearly states all that one needs to know to get going on passive solar, with a comprehensive list of resources and pointers to other topics.
2. The Natural Home is the author’s website.


Title: PERMACULTURE: A Designers’ Manual

Description: This is the definitive Permaculture design manual in print since 1988. It is the textbook and curriculum for the 72-hour certificate course in Permaculture Design.

Written for teachers, students and designers, it follows on and greatly enlarges on the initial introductory texts, Permaculture One (1978) and Permaculture Two (1979) both of which are still in demand over twenty five years after publication.

Very little of the material found in this book is reproduced from the former texts. It covers design methodologies and strategies for both urban and rural applications, describing property design and natural farming techniques.

Publisher: Tagari Publications

ISBN-10: 0908228015

ISBN-13: 978-0908228010

1. Still in print but not easy to find. Bought my copy from the Amazon marketplace. The publisher does sell it on their site but after doing the math, Amazon marketplace proved to be cheaper and faster.
2. A comprehensive manual that will serve as a lifetime reference.

Title: The Living Landscape: How to Read and Understand It

Description: Patrick Whitefield shares a lifetime’s knowledge of the myriad interactions that go to make up the fascinating and varied landscapes we see all around us. He will inspire you to reconnect with the land as a living entity, not a collection of different scenery, and develop an active relationship with nature and the countryside.

The Living Landscape opens with a chapter on how to go about reading the landscape. The following chapters then go on to look in detail into landscape formation, from rocks, through soil, to vegetation, and the intricate web of interactions among plants, animals, climate, and people that makes the landscape around us. Each chapter is interspersed with diagrams, sketches, and notes that Patrick has taken over two decades of living and working in the countryside.

This book invites you to engage actively with nature and experience it firsthand. Understanding how landscapes evolve is a useful skill for landscape designers, gardeners, and farmers large and small, but it is also a life-enhancing skill all of us can enjoy. Whitefield offers us the enduring pleasure that costs nothing and yet offers everything.

Publisher: Permanent Publications

ISBN-10: 1856230430

ISBN-13: 978-1856230438

1. Necessary to read before acquiring land.
2. Not read yet.


Title: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1): Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life And Landscape

Description: Turn water scarcity into water abundance!
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape is the first volume of three-volume guide on how to conceptualize, design, and implement sustainable water-harvesting systems for your home, landscape, and community. This book enables you to assess your on-site resources, gives you a diverse array of strategies to maximize their potential, and empowers you with guiding principles to create an integrated, multi-functional water-harvesting plan specific to your site and needs.

Publisher: Rainsource Press

ISBN-10: 0977246418

ISBN-13: 978-0977246410

1. The first volume is not essential but I bought it anyways for completeness. You will never look at impermeable surfaces the same way again after reading this book.

Title: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond (Vol. 2): Water-Harvesting Earthworks

Description: Volume 2 builds on the information presented in volume 1, showing you how to select, place, size, construct, and plant your chosen water-harvesting earthworks. It presents detailed how-to information and variations on a diverse array of earthworks, including chapters on mulch, vegetation, and graywater recycling so you can customize the techniques to fit the unique requirements of your site. Real-life stories and examples permeate this volume.

Publisher: Rainsource Press

ISBN-10: 0977246418

ISBN-13: 978-0977246410

1. Not read yet.

Title: The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition

Description: The 10th Anniversary Edition of the most comprehensive, up-to-date and thoroughly researched book on the topic of composting human manure available anywhere. It includes a review of the historical, cultural and environmental issues pertaining to “human waste,” as well as an in depth look at the potential health risks related to humanure recycling, with clear instructions on how to eliminate those dangers in order to safely convert humanure into garden soil. Written by a humanure composter with over thirty years experience, this classic work now includes illustrated, step-by-step instructions on how to build a “$25 humanure toilet,” a chapter on alternative graywater systems, photos of owner-built humanure toilets from around the world, and an overview of commercial composting toilets and systems.

Publisher: Joseph Jenkins, Inc

ISBN-10: 0964425831

ISBN-13: 978-0964425835

1. The definitive book on ensuring you don’t send humanure (human manure) down the drain.


Title: Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Description: More mushrooms, less pollution! Yes, you heard right: growing more mushrooms may be the best thing we can do to save the environment. Microscopic cells called “mycelium”—the fruit of which are mushrooms —recycle carbon, nitrogen, and other essential elements as they break down plant and animal debris in the creation of rich new soil. What fungi expert Paul Stamets has discovered is that mycelium also breaks down hydrocarbons —the base structure in many pollutants. So, for instance, when soil contaminated with diesel oil is inoculated with strains of oyster mushroom mycelia, the soil loses its toxicity in just eight weeks. In MYCELIUM RUNNING, Stamets discusses this revolutionary trend in mushroom cultivation and provides tips for choosing the appropriate species of fungi for various environmental purposes.

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

ISBN-10: 1580085792

ISBN-13: 978-1580085793

1. The mushroom is lowly no more.

Title: Edible Forest Gardens: Ecological Vision, Theory For Temperate Climate Permaculture

Description: Volume One of the two-volume set, Edible Forest Gardens, begins with an overview of the ecological and cultural context for forest gardening in modern North America. It also lays out a holistic vision that guides the study of forest ecology that follows. This ecological exploration forms the bulk of Volume One, and offers clear and specific direction for forest garden design and management. Three forest garden case studies ground the concepts discussed in the book and bring them life. Volume One concludes with colorful descriptions of forest gardening’s “Top 100” species, and useful listings of information and organizational resources.
Publisher: Chelsea Green

ISBN-10: 1931498792

ISBN-13: 978-1931498791

1. Cheaper when bought as a two volume set.
2. Covers North American climate.
3. Not read yet.

Title: Edible Forest Gardens, Vol. 2: Ecological Design And Practice For Temperate-Climate Permaculture

Description: Volume Two of the two-volume set, Edible Forest Gardens, focuses all of its attention on effective design and practice. It organizes the ecological strategies from Volume One in a way that is accessible to gardeners and designers. It offers a unique ‘pattern language’ for forest garden design, and provides detailed advice for how to design, prepare the site for, plant, and maintain your forest garden. Volume Two also includes a unique Plant Species Matrix and several associated appendices which offer a wide-ranging catalog of the ecology, uses, and ecosystem functions of the best temperate-climate forest garden plants, and a few edible mushrooms, from around the world.

Publisher: Chelsea Green

ISBN-10: 1931498806

ISBN-13: 978-1931498807

1. Cheaper when bought as a two volume set.
2. Not read yet.

Title: The Permaculture Book of Ferment & Human Nutrition

Description: Emphasising the enhancement of nutrition, this is one of the most comprehensive books available today on the subject of storage and preservation of foods. During his many years of overseas travel, Bill Mollison has collected recipes and processing methods from indigenous people worldwide. These practical and traditional techniques, many of which were nearly lost forever, have been collated and set out in a well-defined and easy to follow manual which is of value to anyone interested in the processing and storage of food.

Publisher: Tagari Publications

ISBN-10: 0908228066

ISBN-13: 978-0908228065

1. Currently out of print but reportedly being reprinted in 2010.
2. The magical power of fermented foods(external link).

Title: Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web

Description: Smart gardeners know that soil is anything but an inert substance. Healthy soil is teeming with life — not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains healthy plants, and thus become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial substances, many of them toxic to humans as well as other forms of life. But there is an alternative to this vicious circle: to garden in a way that strengthens, rather than destroys, the soil food web — the complex world of soil-dwelling organisms whose interactions create a nurturing environment for plants. By eschewing jargon and overly technical language, the authors make the benefits of cultivating the soil food web available to a wide audience, from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals.

Publisher: Timber Press

ISBN-10: 1604691131

ISBN-13: 978-1604691139

1. The best introduction to the Soil Food Web that I have come across.

Title: Roots Demystified: Change Your Gardening Habits to Help Roots Thrive

Description: Gardening expert Robert Kourik is the author of ten books addressing topics that have ranged from drip irrigation, environmentally-sound homes, edible landscaping, and lavender. Now he turns his attention to the necessity of health roots (and thereby healthy plants) for successful gardening and agriculture. Superbly written and thoroughly ‘user friendly’, “Roots Demystified” is profusely enhanced with twenty-five illustrative graphics showcasing extraordinary illustrations of excavated root systems in their entirety. A compendium of practical, comprehensive, and exceptionally well organized information, advice, tips, and observations that will benefit novice gardeners and seasoned professionals alike, “Roots Demystified” is an excellent and strongly recommended addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library Gardening/Agriculture/Horticulture reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Publisher: Metamorphic Press

ISBN-10: 0961584831

ISBN-13: 978-0961584832

1. Not read yet.

Title: The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

Description: Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable living trend that’s taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with The New Organic Grower published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.

Now, with his long-awaited new book, The Winter Harvest Handbook, anyone can have access to his hard-won experience. Gardeners and farmers can use the innovative, highly successful methods Coleman describes in this comprehensive handbook to raise crops throughout the coldest of winters.

Building on the techniques that hundreds of thousands of farmers and gardeners adopted from The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, this new book focuses on growing produce of unparalleled freshness and quality in customized unheated or, in some cases, minimally heated, movable plastic greenhouses.

Coleman offers clear, concise details on greenhouse construction and maintenance, planting schedules, crop management, harvesting practices, and even marketing methods in this complete, meticulous, and illustrated guide. Readers have access to all the techniques that have proven to produce higher-quality crops on Coleman’s own farm.

His painstaking research and experimentation with more than 30 different crops will be valuable to small farmers, homesteaders, and experienced home gardeners who seek to expand their production seasons.

A passionate advocate for the revival of small-scale sustainable farming, Coleman provides a practical model for supplying fresh, locally grown produce during the winter season, even in climates where conventional wisdom says it “just can’t be done.”

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

ISBN-10: 1603580816

ISBN-13: 978-1603580816

1. Especially applicable to colder winters like we experience in Canada, this book presents ways in which to grow using (primarily) unheated greenhouses. Suggested crops, technologies and planting schedules make it all the more practical.