The Ecological Farm: a Minimalist, No-till, No-spray, Selective-Weeding, Grow-Your-Own-Fertilizer System for Organic Agriculture

By August 29, 2023Book Reviews

Helen Atthowe, 2023
Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT

Based on a lifetime of experience as an agricultural scientist and organic farmer, Helen Atthowe’s new handbook begins with an account of her journey of discovery through research and practice toward a minimum-input, minimum-till, ecological approach to organic production. She then establishes a set of principles for ecological farm management that begin with the four NRCS soil health principles – diversify, keep soil covered, maintain living root, minimize disturbance – and go much further to include concepts such as weeding selectively, carbon-based fertility, and within-farm nutrient cycling to minimize dependence on inputs.  In depth chapters cover topics from soil health and fertility to “building the immune system of your farm or garden” and working with plant competition (weeds), beneficial and pathogenic microbes, and beneficial and pest insects, followed by chapters focused on individual crops.

Full of beautiful photo illustrations of beneficial insects and their favorite habitat plants as well as food crops and Helen’s various gardening systems, this unique organic farming manual also includes numerous tables and bar graphs based on Helen’s years of research and observation.  This could be a valuable resource for your operation – check it out!