A Regenerative Land Use Reading List

By Meriwether Hardie

As our team travels to different ecosystems and landscapes around the country and interacts with farmers, landowners, and passionate foodies, people frequently ask us what we’re reading. We are avid readers, always looking for new ideas, having conversations on important land use issues, and developing real-time solutions. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite and most recommended books. Several books on the below list are newly published in the last year, while others are slightly older, yet all have had lasting impact on Bio-Logical Capital’s Stewardship Development philosophy.

As the seasons change and the days shorten, we hope that you dive into one of these excellent reads and become inspired to better understand our diverse and complex planet.

 

The Reading List

Restoration Agriculture: Real World Permaculture for Farmers by Mark Shepard 

Here at Bio-Logical Capital, we use two terms most commonly when referring to our agricultural projects, “restoration agriculture” and “regenerative agriculture.” These terms describe the style and mindset of the farming systems that we plan, implement, and cultivate. We believe that for agriculture to be “restorative” it must be designed to produce a variety of nutrient-rich crops while building soil productivity.

Mark Shepherd’s Restoration Agriculture is a synthesis of his life’s work and study in agriculture, and it demonstrates the historical, economical, ecological, nutritional, and social support for restoration agriculture. This book explains how to create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function and that are a viable alternative to our conventional agriculture system.

Why Chad recommends this book – This book is a thorough yet easy to follow introduction to restoration agriculture, and the overview of the "state of the world" in agriculture is important for everyone to read and comprehend.

 

Letters to a Young Farmer 

Letters to a Young Farmer is a compilation of 36 essays and letters from some of the most influential farmers, cooks, food activists, and writers. From Barbara Kingsolver to Bill McKibben and from Michael Pollan to Temple Grandin, the contributors provide the reader with advice on how we can bridge the gulf between nature and agriculture, and the gulf between land conservation and food production. When read together, these essays make a strong and poignant case for why now, more than ever before, we need farmers.

The United States is on the cusp of the largest retirement of farmers in U.S. history, with more farmers over the age of 75 than between the ages of 35 and 44. Letters to a Young Farmer aims to provide young farmers with advice as they start their careers as well as words of encouragement as those young farmers face the many challenges that will stand in their way. 

Why Meriwether recommends this book – Not only does it compile stories from some of our favorite authors in one place, but it also creates a roadmap of how we eat and farm, and how the two can come together to build a more sustainable future. Whether you’re a farmer or an engaged eater, we highly recommend this informative read.

 

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Business Man By Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard, legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, has had a tremendous impact on both the planet and the business world’s definition of what true environmental, social, and economic success looks like. In this memoir, Chouinard presents his philosophy for a "new style of responsible business" along with a chronicle of his personal and company history. Although this book was published over ten years ago, it remains one of our favorites. 

The following quote from the book especially resonates with Bio-Logical Capital’s business ethos.

When I look at my business, I realize one of the biggest challenges I have is combating complacency. If I say we’re running Patagonia as if it’s going to be here a hundred years from now, that doesn’t mean we have a hundred years to get there! Our success and longevity lie in our ability to change quickly. Continuous innovation requires maintaining a sense of urgency—a tall order, especially in Patagonia’s seemingly laid-back corporate culture...When you get away from the idea that a company is disposable, all future decisions in the company are affected. The owners and the officers see that, since the company will outlive them, they have responsibilities beyond the bottom line. Perhaps they will even see themselves as stewards of the earth.

Why Olivia recommends this book – We see responsible businesses as key drivers of change. Chouinard argues that doing good business is also doing smart business. Because of the climate crisis that faces our planet, we feel that encouraging businesses to improve and challenge the status quo is more important then ever. 

 

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The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming By Jean-Martin Fortier 

The Market Gardener is one of the farming books that we recommend most frequently. It contains practical and technical advice about how to grow crops sustainably and profitably. It is the updated and more detailed sibling to Eliot Coleman’s New Organic Grower. Like Coleman, Fortier assures readers that they too can run a profitable farm and live a good life. 

As Fortier writes in his book, “A well-established, smoothly running market garden with good sales outlets can bring in $60,000 to $100,000 per acre annually in diverse vegetable crops. That’s with a profit margin of over 40 percent.” For context, the average CSA farmer brings in less than $40,000 per acre of vegetables. We think that these numbers speak for themselves, especially for those interested in building a new financial model for sustainable farming. 

Why Morgan recommends this book – Fortier’s philosophy “to grow better instead of bigger” is one that we adamantly believe in. We recommend this book to anyone interested in growing (or just understanding) how to grow vegetable crops in the most efficient and profitable way possible, using the best practices possible. 

 


Streetfight: A Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan

Streetfight layout a road map for rethinking, reinvigorating, and redesigning our cities. As New York City transportation director under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Janette Sadik-Khan promoted walking, biking, and public transit over automobiles, and she championed tactical urbanism even before the term came into vogue. Throughout the book Sadik-Khan argues that remaking our cities into spaces that are built for people and not just cars requires a combination of visionary leadership, committed citizen advocacy, and a willingness from all parties to be inventive and experimental. 

Why Grant recommends this book – When Bio-Logical Capital works in urban environments, our framework is based on allowing people to reconnect with their neighborhood and with nature. This book lays out a thoughtful roadmap to help urban areas better plan and implement their cities.