Review: The Resilient Farm and Homestead

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Even though we live on a homestead and produce 100% of our own meat, dairy, eggs, maple syrup, honey, and a lot of our fruits and vegetables, I felt like a bright-eyed freshman as I read Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead. He takes self-sufficiency to a whole new level, which he calls resiliency and regeneration. It is not about reducing your negative impact on the planet. It’s about increasing your positive impact.

This is not the kind of book that you can read in a single sitting — or even a few days. At least I couldn’t! There are books that suck you in, and you read straight through at lightening speed. Then there are books that are so filled with revolutionary ideas that your brain keeps wanting to mull over everything! The Resilient Farm and Homestead is the latter. It is packed full of details, drawings, diagrams, and color photographs that make you really think. That means you could wind up spending ten minutes or a whole hour on a single page, depending upon how much your brain starts applying the information to your own situation. As I read the information on how to use a compost pile to heat water to 115 degrees Fahrenheit in the dead of winter, I started thinking of where we could put a compost pile on our own farm to utilize this amazing idea. I read over the information several times, questioning and planning my compost heated greenhouse! (No, this does not involve putting compost in your greenhouse, which is why it’s so brilliant.) If you can’t wait to buy his book to learn more about this concept, you can check out his short video on it.

It is always great to see another author with a similar philosophy to mine. As I write in my books that no two farms are the same and everyone must become their own expert, Falk says …

This book should be used like a cookbook: not as a prescription but as a resource of ideas to get you thinking and acting. In the same way that no great chef ever confined herself to a recipe, no great land tender should ever confine herself to another’s ideas. Each of us working with land must ultimately listen to the clues continually emerging from our own direct interaction with the land under our feet, if we are to find the ways that work best.

Where does Falk’s expertise come from? He has a permaculture research farm in Vermont on the side of a hill where he grows most of his own food — and more — even though conventional farmers would view that land as worthless. According to his publisher, his farm “is an array of fruiting plants, ducks, nuts, fuelwood hedges, earth-inspired buildings, and even rice paddies.” Yes, rice paddies in Vermont! That was one of the reasons I asked the publisher for a review copy of this book. I figured if this man was growing rice in Vermont, I needed to read his book! For more info on Ben, check out his company website, Whole Systems Design, LLC.

While there are a lot of books out there that tell you how to grow your own food (including a couple of mine), The Resilient Farm and Homestead tells you how to produce so much more!  As a homestead designer, Ben explains in great detail how you can create a truly resilient homestead, not just a high-producing farm that will eventually fizzle out without external inputs. He writes about ponds, swales, biochar, growing mushrooms, scything, grazing and perennial food crop integration, using wood to heat your home and water, and even “growing health.” The book has several appendices that not only give you additional resources and a glossary, but also help you to assess your current state of resiliency, a list of crucial skills for emergencies, a list of tools and materials needed for self-reliance, and a homestead vulnerability checklist. If you want to be as self-sufficient and resilient as possible, and you have at least a few acres, I highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: Chelsea Green Publishing provided me with a copy of this book at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Updated: January 31, 2024

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