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Book Review: The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to aHealthy, Sustainable Agriculture

  • Subject: [cg] Book Review: The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to aHealthy, Sustainable Agriculture
  • From: Alliums <garlicgrower@snip.net>
  • Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 15:03:10 -0500

Hi, Folks!

I'm on a roll! I go to the PASA conference next week, so there will be
articles later!!!   I retain copywrite, but if you'd like to use it
somewhere, give me credit and a copy of the publication it appears in -- it
comforts my Mom to know that I'm at least famous, if not rich! ;-)

Someday, someone will give me cash! ;-D  At least I'm getting the PASA
conference paid for this year! :-D


The Next Green Revolution:  Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable
Agriculture by James E. Horne and Maura McDermott, Haworth Press,
Binghamton, NY, 2001.  ISBN:  1-56022-886-5, $34.95

"What is a healthy, enduring agriculture?  Once you have an idea of what it
is, how do you practice it?  And once you have some success at it, how to
you convince others to change-to try something new?"

These questions from the preface of  "The Next Green Revolution" are the
ones all of us in sustainable agriculture struggle with - not only to define
what sustainable agriculture is, but to explain to others how we practice it
without getting lost in tangents.  (Especially since ecosystems are all
about tangents!)

Horne, President of the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma,
and McDermott, the Center's Communications Director, have put together a
readable and practical overview of what sustainable agriculture is, how it
is practiced and probably of most interest to farmers, why this style of
farming can preserve both their farm and their profits, both now and in the

While of interest to anyone concerned about how their food is grown, this is
primarily a book by a farmer for other farmers.  Horne, an Oklahoma farmer
from a family of conventional farmers, speaks plainly about his
preconceptions growing up about what a farmer should be.  Like many western
farmers, he didn't trust the Rodales and their methods on first hearing
because "what did a couple of Pennsylvanians know about farming in
Oklahoma?"   As an agricultural agent fresh out of school, he advised other
farmers as the university and agribusiness companies suggested.  Over time,
however, he saw that these input-intensive methods were degrading the soil
and bankrupting the farming communities he had grown up with.  Slowly and to
much local ridicule, he and the Kerr Center began investigating low-input
sustainable agriculture.

Horne didn't become an organic grower overnight and he doesn't expect the
current generation of conventional farmers to transform instantly either.
So, he puts aside rheotric and lays out sustainable agriculture in eight
chapters that any farmer can pick and choose from to improve their farm
immediately:  create and conserve healthy soil; conserve water and protect
its quality; manage organic wastes to avoid pollution; select plants and
animals adapted to the environment; encourage biodiversity; manage pests
with minimal environmental impact; conserve nonrenewable energy resource;
and finally, increase profitability and reduce risk.

Personally, I haven't seen a book that lays out the practices of sustainable
agriculture as clearly and concisely as "The Next Green Revolution.". This
book is especially relevant as the 2002 version of the Farm Bill, with its
proposed Conservation Programs, would pay most farmers, regardless of
certification, to implement many of the soil and water conservation methods
Horne describes.  If your tongue trips up trying to explain sustainable
agriculture or the current conservation amendments to the 2002 Farm Bill to
local farmers who wonder what the heck you're doing on your farm or why all
these food activists are making such a fuss about "organics," hand them this
book.  They'll no longer wonder - and they just might start practicing these
techniques on their own farms.
Reviewed by Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
Phoenixville, PA

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