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Read & Watch

The books and films inspiring you to make a difference

GUIDE TO GARDEN AMENDMENTS

BY NIGEL PALMER (CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING 2020)

Review by Emily Stokes

He had me at Ferments. Maybe Regenerative, or Mineral and Biological Extracts, and possibly Locally Sourced. It was a combination of the entire title that captured my regenerative grower’s heart. If you, too, are on a journey to grow nutrient-dense food resistant to pests and diseases which leaves your garden in a better state than when you started, then this is the book for you.

Part one looks at nurturing diversity in our soil, the importance of soil biology and mineralogy, plus how to use a refractometer and take a soil test. The second part teaches us how to make the soil amendments using what we have around us such as fermented plant juice with nettle, egg or oyster shells in apple cider vinegar, how to capture and propagate the microorganisms in our soil, harness the biology of leaf mould and make lactic-acid bacteria from rice and raw milk. Once you are ready to go beyond compost and truly nurture your living soil ecosystem, then this guide to sustainable growing is a must-have resource.

RECONNECTED

A COMMUNITY BUILDERS HANDBOOK

BY ANDREW LEIGH & NICK TERRELL (LA TROBE UNIVERSITY PRESS 2020)

Review by Emily Stokes

People today have fewer close friends, fewer neighbours whose names they remember and more people are lonely at least one day a week. Andrew Leigh and Nick Terrell dig deep into these statistics to paint a picture of a disconnected Australia where people are volunteering less, visiting aged-care residents less and using smartphones to write emails at funerals.

The authors then explain the incredibly creative and successful social initiatives that people are starting up in order to reconnect. GoodGym combines exercise with social good – a member will jog to visit an elderly person to help change a lightbulb or trim an overhanging branch, then jog home again. Alchemy Chorus is a performing choir for people with mild to moderate dementia, and online platforms such as GIVIT put social media to good use and connect as-new donations with those who really need them. This book of engaging stories and practical ideas will inspire you to form stronger social connections and build a more resilient community of your own.

LOVING COUNTRY

A GUIDE TO SECRET AUSTRALIA

BY BRUCE PASCOE AND VICKY SHUKUROGLOU (HARDY GRANT BOOKS 2020)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

This book invites you to ‘embrace knowledge accrued by thousands of generations’, sharing the great depth of Australian history not often acknowledged as it should be. Bruce and Vicky invite you to deepen your connection to the country in which you live by focusing on 18 places of Aboriginal significance, sharing their history, the significance and giving us some food for thought.

This book is poetic in its prose; it’s like sitting and having a yarn and having our country’s rich heritage shared with you. It’s heritage that’s mostly left out of the history books yet remarkable in its age and significance. Like the Brewarrina fish traps, which according to Bruce, are arguably the oldest human constructions on earth at 40,000 years old. That makes them older than the pyramids, yet they are almost unheard of.

It is a privilege to have this knowledge shared with us. Thank you, Bruce. Thank you, Vicky.

ENTANGLED LIFE

HOW FUNGI MAKE OUR WORLDS, CHANGE OUR MINDS AND SHAPE OUR FUTURES

BY MERLIN SHELDRAKE (PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE UK 2020)

Review by Emily Stokes

Prepare to be blown away by what fungi does. It solves problems and finds the quickest way out of a maze. Controls the body of an ant to make it climb high, perform a death grip on a leaf, then sprout a mushroom out of its head to send out more spores. Alleviates some mental illness in humans. Fungi gives us bread, alcohol and life-saving medicines. Fungi can also be recruited to break down pollutants in our soil and water such as pesticides, crude oil and even plastics.

Probably one of the most fascinating is the discovery that fungi connects trees underground in vast, complex and collaborative mycorrhizal networks the author calls the Wood Wide Web. The trees really are talking to each other through fungi. While this book is a dense read, a bit of a ramble and leaves us with more questions than answers, it does take us on a journey into the fascinating world of fungi that our lives are already entangled with, whether we know it – and like it – or not.

PLANTOPEDIA

THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO HOUSEPLANTS

BY LAURA CAMILLERI AND SOPHIE KAPLAN OF LEAF SUPPLY (SMITH STREET BOOKS 2020)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

This is the encyclopedia for indoor plant lovers. This weighty tome covers all the basics of keeping happy, healthy houseplants. Beautifully designed and laid out for ease of use, Plantopedia profiles more than 130 houseplants from the most popular and wellknown varieties such as monsteras through to the more rare and obscure. Whether you prefer tropical leafy varieties, succulents or cacti, this book will help you work out which plant is right for you.

Each plant has a key providing vital information about each plant, including care level, (novice, green thumb and expert) light, water, soil, humidity, growth habit, toxicity to pets and even how to propagate them. It’s easy to flip through, admire all the plants and at a glance see if the plant will work for you and your space. They are also indexed by care level and needs. This book will help take your indoor-plant collection to the next level.

MOVIE

KISS THE GROUND

A FILM BY JOSHUA TICKELL AND REBECCA HARRELL TICKELL (2020)

Review by Kel Buckley

Maybe the most important thing about the 2020 film Kiss the Ground is the breadth of the audience it’s trying to capture. Husband-andwife filmmaker and environmental activist duo Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell use a celebrity-studded cast to portray the simple but important message that the health of our planet – and of the people living on it – hinges on the health of our soils.

Narrated by Woody Harreslon, the film uses simple language, big-budget filmmaking techniques and just enough scientific credibility to make an engaging and convincing case for soilbased, carbon-capture solutions. The Hollywoodstyle production combined with infographics and one-too-many time-lapse sequences leaves the viewer with the feeling they’ve just witnessed something significant.

However those well versed in regenerative agriculture’s principles may find the 84-minute film’s storyline slightly tedious. In any case, Kiss the Ground tells a really important story to a mainstream audience and for that reason alone it’s deserving of its DOC LA Awards Best Documentary of 2020 plaudits.

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