Throughout the Earthskills program you will be exposed to a broad spectrum of information and skills that support earth-based self sufficiency. For most of human history, these skills have been taught, practiced, embraced and refined over the course of entire lifetimes, and throughout consecutive generations. Think of this class as an opportunity to get a feel for many topics and to find your way toward those that most inspire and excite you. You can choose to deepen your learning by following these inspirations in between our class sessions. Practicing what you have done in class and exploring more through reading will root the learning and greatly enhance your experience.
The following is an incomplete list of books that we have found helpful in our journeys toward self- sufficiency. This list is divided into three sections: first, the 4 required books (we’ll be assigning readings from these throughout the year); second is a list of 11 books that we highly recommend (we’ll be suggesting readings from them throughout the year); third is a list of books that we encourage you to check out (we aren’t suggesting that you buy all of them, but rather that you check them out, and see if any of them strike your fancy enough to justify the trees and toxic inks that go into the printing). Some of them, and others not on this list, can be found in the public library. The books that have stars are the ones that we especially like.
If you want to find these books locally, more power to you! If you want to buy them online, we participate in an associate program with Amazon.com, and when you click on the links below, we benefit. The money that we make from this program goes into a fund to help us continue to offer free information to everyone.
Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Eipel
Awesome book that breaks down botany into a graspable science. It will take you more than a day to read.
Currently my favorite permaculture book. Ben is very smart. The content is relatively relevant to the southern Appalachians, even though he lives in Vermont.
The Organic Gardener’s Handbook by Frank Tozer
If you are going to have one gardening book, I recommend this one.
The Real Goods Independent Builder by Sam Clark
The book that can help you build a house, or something else. This is not a “natural building” book. Rather, it’s about building with wood and materials that we have access to here. Wood is the most abundant natural building material we have in the southern mountains.
Highly Recommended Books
Awesome for troubleshooting in the garden.
Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier
Fabulous book with tons of tempting plants. Eric will be going over many of these species during his lecture on the subject, but I highly recommend having the book for reference.
The Carbon Farming Solution by Eric Toensmeier
As Eric says, “A global toolkit of perennial crops and regenerative agriculture practices for climate change mitigation and food security.” We will have a class on the subject.
Definitely the best sources I have found for rainwater harvesting (volume 1) and earthscaping for water retention (volume 2). Amazing. Super thorough. Highly recommended if you ever want to catch water in cisterns or in tanks.
The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips
Phillips details everything you need to know to be successful at growing perennial fruits. Highly recommended.
Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide by Lawrence Newcomb
The book to use when identifying flowering plants in the field in this area.
If you purchase this book, read over pages x through xix in the introduction to begin.
The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon
Really entertaining gardening book that goes deeply into soil science, and especially soil remineralization. I love it.
Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford
My very favorite applied Permaculture book. I especially recommend the chapter on guilds.
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
Communication is a critical part of us being here together as a class and as people on the planet. This is a small, sweet, and intense book that lays out a very effective strategy that we utilize here a lot.
How to Grow Perennial Vegetables by Martin Crawford
An inspiring look into what the title indicates. Very fun!
Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin
A guidebook to the stages of being human, and how to work on becoming a more mature one.
Other Awesome Reads
*** Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
Country Women by Jeanne Tetrault and Sherry Thomas
Building Green by Clarke Snell and Tim Callahan
The Barefoot Architect: a handbook for green building by Johan van Lengen
Alternative House Building by Mike McClintock
Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
by John Jeavons
The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe
Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden by Gilbert Wilson
***The Illustrated Book of Trees by William Carey Grimm
Wildflower and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachians by Timothy Spira
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by “Wildman” Steve Brill
Botanica North America by Marjorie Harris
The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer
Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer
Tools and Such
***Seasons of America’s Past by Eric Sloane
An Edge in the Kitchen by Chad Ward
The Ax Book: The Lore and Science of the Woodcutter by Dudley Cook
Butchering and Food Preservation
***The River Cottage Cookbook by the Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall
Putting Food By by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg and Beatrice Vaughan
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
Pickled, Potted and Canned: The Story of Food Preserving by Sue Shephard
The Ethical Meat Handbook by Meredith Leigh
Chicken Tractors by Andy Lee
Goat Husbandry by David Mackenzie
The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery
Keeping a Family Cow by Joann S. Grohman
Primitive Living, Self Sufficiency, and Survival Skills by Thomas J. Eipel
Wildwood Wisdom by Ellsworth Jaeger
Buckskin: The Ancient Art of Braintanning by Steven Edholm and Tamara Wilder
Survival Skills of Native California by Paul Campbell
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture by Sepp Holzer
One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka