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Book Reviews

PERMACULTURE MARKET GARDENER: A Visual Guide to a Profitable Whole-Systems Farm Business

by Zach Loeks (New Society Publishers 2017)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt


This book is a guide to profitable, vibrant and sustainable permaculture-based market gardening. Zach Loeks is an educator, designer, consultant and farmer from Canada who says that we must balance the mimicry of natural systems with the practice of profit.

You won’t find plant charts and guides here. This book takes a step back and looks at the farm as a whole ecosystem of people, soils, animals, plants and customers.

With chapters on farm ecosystems, whole farm mapping, holistic planning and design management, Loeks focuses on planning and design. He also explains in detail his own permabed system and how it works.

This book is about how to apply permaculture to growing on a commercial scale, because Loeks believes ‘neither the monoculture farm (a sparse business-as-usual approach) nor the hippie farm (an inefficient/disorganised abundance) will suffice’.

VITAMIN N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life

by Richard Louv (Atlantic Books 2016)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt


Richard Louv coined the term ‘nature deficit disorder’ in his book Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008). Louv’s work outlines the benefits of a strong nature connection for a child’s healthy physical and emotional development.

Vitamin N is the follow-up book where he shares practical ideas about how to get kids more connected with nature. There are 500 activities and ideas about how to get you and your kids out into nature, whether it be for a full-day hike or just simple ways to incorporate vitamin N into your day.

There are ideas for toddlers, primary-aged kids, tweens, teens, whole families and even the community as a whole. These ideas include nature writing, games, gardening, creating wild spaces and much more.

This book is a great resource for parents, teachers, grandparents and anyone who has a desire to help their children get in touch with nature.

THE URBAN FARMER: How to Create a Productive Garden in Any Space

by Justin Calverley & CERES (ABC Books 2017)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt


The guide for anyone who dreams of living the country life in the city. This beautifully designed book is a collaboration by Justin Calverley (formerly of RRR radio show Dirty Deeds) and CERES Community Environment Park in Melbourne. It is a complete guide to creating your own urban backyard farm.

Justin advocates observing and following nature’s cycles and patterns as the best way to a sustainable and productive garden. He covers everything you need to know from soils, compost, planting guides, pests, diseases, weeds, bees, worms and much more. The information is clear, in-depth and accompanied by great photos. Most importantly, Justin follows organic and permaculture principles.

For anyone wanting to set up their own productive backyard garden, this is a great book to help get you started. Available in the Pip Shop.

THE OLDEST FOODS ON EARTH: A History of Australian Native Foods with Recipes

by John Newton (NewSouth 2016)

Review by Elizabeth Walton


In his latest publication, John Newton says that encouraging people to cook with Australian Indigenous food is one thing; breaking down the barrier between mainstream diets and what we label native food is altogether something else.

To truly embrace Indigenous food, John says we must simply call it ‘food’ and normalise its place at our table. When we don’t, we are maintaining a cultural barrier. Newton argues that it’s time to embrace ‘the unique flora and fauna that nourished the Aboriginal peoples of this land for over 50,000 years’.

The book explores how this shift could reposition delicacies presently regarded as pest species as marketable opportunities. He compares this to when blueberries were repositioned from what was seen as a problem to being reinvented as a superfood, Newton says. This could happen in Australia with the test release of 4000 magpie geese onto the commercial food market – birds which would usually be eradicated.

The book’s recipes integrate the message by celebrating ingredients such as indigenous geese and plums as culinary delights.


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