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August 2007: Publications

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A Walden Two Experiment by Kathleen Kinkade was first published in 1972 and so may be better found in a library than in a bookstore. This is the story of the first 5 years of Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia, which was based on B.F. Skinner’s book Walden Two. Its author is one of the founders of the community and the only founder still there after 5 years. She tells a fascinating and detailed story of the successes and failures of Twin Oaks, the challenges they faced with personal relationships, money, children, farming and many other issues. The community blundered its way through to a beginning structure that eventually held more people than it repelled. Kinkade tells her tale in a very fair-minded way, without judging other members. Although the book was written 35 years ago it still has value for readers today. As B.F. Skinner points out in his Foreward, “The problems [the community] faces and the solutions it tries are those of a world community.” The issues that presented themselves will seem familiar to most everyone, whatever their living situation.

The Backyard Bee Keeper by Kim Flottum (Quarry Books, 33 Commercial Street, Gloucester MA 01930-5089; 2005; $19.99) is subtitled “an absolute beginner’s guide to keeping bees in your yard and garden.” However, it is much more than that. The richness and detail of information are fascinating and should also interest the general public as well as beekeepers with all degrees of experience. The intricacy of the bee society is amazing and perhaps could help us humans be more humble about our own accomplishments. The information about how to keep bees is presented in such a way that the beekeeper will know “why” as well as “how.” The book is well written and always interesting. It is full of color photos illustrating different types of bees and their life and the steps in various beekeeping processes.

Survival Acre, 7th Printing by Linda Runyon (Health Research, P.O. Box 850, Pomeroy WA 99347; 1999) is a booklet that outlines basic information about 50 wild foods and medicines, including drawings and where they are most likely to be found in nature.

Green Manuring: Principles and Practice of Natural Soil Improvement,3rd Edition, edited by William F. Brinton (Woods End Agricultural Institute, Route #2, Box 1850, Mt. Vernon ME 04352; 1989), is a small but detailed book on this important farming practice. Tables compare the value of various crops for nutrient content, residual value, seeding rates and costs, as well as implements used in turning under green manure in Maine. [Ecology Action finds green manuring practices deplete already existing organic matter in the soil more rapidly than occurs normally and encourages the growing of mature compost crops instead.  See our GROW BIOINTENSIVE Composting and Growing Compost Materials”  for more details.]  Seed sources are included, although these may have changed since the book was published.

Natural Swimming Pools: The Total Guide by Mick Hilleary and Dale Gracy (Habitat Books, 5152 N. Hillside, Wichita KS 67219. ebook ISBN 0-9752731-0-8;; 2003) illustrates in great detail with photos and drawn plans how to build a natural pool. The resulting pools are beautiful and more natural-looking than a regular swimming pool, and they are kept clean with a filtration system based on plants, rather than by using chemicals. The authors point out that these cost the same as a regular swimming pool but save money over the years because chemicals are not required. The reader needs to be aware, however, that the pools require electricity (for the pump) and a heavy-duty liner.

Building a Pond, Farmer’s Bulletin #2256 (USDA, U.S. Government Printing Office: 1973  0-507-795) is an extremely simple book that deals briefly with basic concepts of ponds rather than construction details.

Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Rights of Indigenous Peoples by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Third World Network, 121-S, Jalan Utama, 10450 Penang, Malaysia; 2003) is a report from a workshop of the same name which took place in Switzerland in 2003. The participants were indigenous people from around the world, with a few UN staff as observers. The report details why the WTO, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Convention on Biological Diversity do not serve indigenous people. However, for this reviewer, the most important part of the book are the first 2 pages of the first chapter where the author gives an overview of what makes up heritage and traditional knowledge. She points out these parts all combine into an interdependent whole which can’t be separated into various components. She presents her points with great passion and without apology. This glimpse into the richness and rootedness of the traditional experience may inspire envy in some Western readers.

Comfrey for Gardeners by Sally Smith (HDRA Publishing, Ryton Organic Gardens, Coventry CV8 3LG; 2003; is a little booklet packed with information on using this plant in the garden to enrich compost, make liquid fertilizer or use as a mulch. The booklet focuses on Russian Comfrey, Bocking 14 cultivar, which is recommended as being the most productive type for gardeners.




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