The books and films inspiring you to make a difference
THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF WHAT KEEPS THE EARTH, AND US, HEALTHY
BY MATTHEW EVANS
(MURDOCH BOOKS 2021)
Review by Emily Stokes
Even if you think you know a lot about soil, by reading Matthew Evans’ tome on the good dirt you are guaranteed to find out more. Starting with a history of how the earth formed and created the soils we grow our food in, Soil proceeds to explain just how much we have neglected, over-ploughed, over-grazed and depleted the earth’s thin layer of topsoil that keeps us alive.
Not all doom and gloom, the book also imparts plenty of positive ways we can all contribute to a healthy, functioning microbial soil life. It explains how we should use weeds as indicator of soil health, the benefits of biochar and why practices like biodynamics, holistic management and regenerative farming can make a real difference.
What Matthew brings to light in his conversational manner is that every one of us should be thinking more about soils. Because what we do in our backyards, on our farms and in our food choices matters. While we can’t see what goes on in the ground, knowing what is happening in this intricate web of life is crucial for our own survival.
LIVE LIKE TOMORROW MATTERS
BY JADE MILES
(MURDOCH BOOKS 2021)
Review by Emily Stokes
Captivating photography, fun illustrations and a great layout makes Jade’s book lovely to look at and there’s something in it for everyone. In Part A Jade talks you through what futuresteading is and why you might choose this kind of lifestyle. She introduces the seven pillars, which include celebrating simple, seeking ritual and saluting the seasons.
Part B is the ‘how’ and is a run-down of the year broken into six seasons. It’s a mix of how to grow, harvest and store food, along with recipes and, since their farm is an apple orchard, how to graft and train fruit trees.
There are some great charts, two of my favourites being the pollination and medicinal plants charts. It’s not like this kind of stuff hasn’t been written before, but Jade does it in a way that is fresh, appealing and manages to inject just the right amount of her own story to keep you inspired. In fact, you might end up a little envious of the lifestyle Jade lives, except that she’s also realistic – it hasn’t been an easy road to this lifestyle, but an important one.
A TOOLKIT FOR TRANSFORMING OURSELVES AND THE WORLD
BY LOOBY MACNAMARA
(PERMANENT PUBLICATIONS 2020)
Review by Morag Gamble
Cultural Emergence is a toolkit of transformation from a permaculture perspective, a guide for positive change-makers. Looby guides us through a process of imagining the world we want to live in, both personally and collectively, and finding beautiful and courageous ways to work towards it. She brings a fresh perspective to the world of social permaculture and weaves in her inspiration of working closely with nature-connection mentor Jon Young.
Cultural Emergence is a timely gift to support people to reconnect with themselves, with community and nature, and to feel supported to step up as leaders to create community resilience, regeneration and wellbeing.
Regardless of whether you have a garden, Cultural Emergence shows how to apply permaculture to your daily life, working with others and being the change.
Head to www.sense-making.buzzsprout.com to hear the podcast Morag recorded with Looby earlier this year.
ONE POT, PAN, PLANET
A GREENER WAY TO COOK FOR YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND THE PLANET
BY ANNA JONES (HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHERS 2021)
Review by Nicole Lutze
One Pot, Pan, Planet does make for compelling and inspiring reading that promotes the power of individual change. At the very least, this book should get more people thinking about waste prevention and land more vegetables onto family dinner tables.
One’s vegetarian recipes are straightforward with easily accessible (and affordable) ingredients. Frugal foodies and permies will delight in the (short) section on foraging. Anna homes in on the importance of waste prevention — be it plastic packaging, using leftovers, storing food or giving new life to so-called waste.
Seasonal and local food is at the heart of this book, singing praise to regenerative agriculture and the importance of plant and seed biodiversity. She even includes recipes for pickles, lacto-ferments, preserves, cordial and stock. An excellent cookbook for meat-eaters and vegans alike. It’s non-preachy, timely, well researched, and most importantly: the recipes taste good.
YOUR GARDEN IN WAR-TIME
BY C.H MIDDLETON (AURUM PRESS 2010)
Review by Kel Buckley
Cecil Henry Middleton pioneered what it meant to be a celebrity gardener when he launched the Dig for Victory campaign on the BBC World Service in 1939. His approachable and instructive gardening broadcasts attracted over three million listeners.
This book, along with two others, are transcriptions of those broadcasts which called on civilians to turn their flower gardens over to growing food to help a war-torn Britain produce food.
‘For potatoes and beans are munitions of war as surely as are bullets and shells,’ said Cecil.
First published in 1941, it was reprinted by Aurum Press in 2010 and now, in the middle of a global pandemic, in many ways it’s as relevant today as it was 80 years ago. Yes, it’s written for a northern hemisphere audience, and some practices Cecil encourages may not be as widely accepted in 2021 as they were in 1941, but it’s bursting with useful information and his archaic turn of phrase really is as entertaining as the content is informative.
THE GOOD LIFE
HOW TO GROW A BETTER WORLD
BY HANNAH MALONEY
(AFFIRM PRESS 2021)
Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt
Hannah created this book to highlight the connection between transforming our world collectively and how our daily lives and actions can play a key role in driving this.
This book explores what it means to live a ‘good life’ in the face of a climate emergency. Hannah shares simple practical ideas and examples of how to create a life that can help make a positive change in the world. She draws on her extensive knowledge and experience and shares examples from her own life to illustrate her points.
Each section; House, Garden, Food and Community provides lots of easy-toimplement and accessible examples of small and big changes we can make to reduce our impact on the planet. She keeps it relevant and achievable whether you are living in a rental or if you own your own property. Each section also includes a workbook where you can map out ideas that you can incorporate into your own life and community.
This book is full of sunshine and positivity. It’s full of gorgeous photos depicting Hannah’s beautiful home, garden and family – all of which is super inspiring.
‘Our individual and collective good life will only happen if we all turn up, tune in and tackle this destructive system with joy, integrity, intelligence, commitment and what some refer to as “radical hope”.’