Friday, August 15, 2014


The first half of the book, Bioshelter Market Garden, by Darrell Frey, is your standard tour around a permaculture farm.  (In fact, that's the subtitle, "A Permaculture Farm".)  It isn't that different from  Sepp Holzer's book (see my post, Permaculture--Austrian Style, 8/5/14) or the book by Ben Falk that I hope to review next, except that Sepp Holzer's farm is in Austria and Ben Falk's farm is in Vermont, USA.  Darrell Frey's farm (Three Sisters Farm named after the Native American and permaculture 'guild' of squash, beans, and corn growing together) is also in the US, in what he refers to as "northwestern Pennsylvania".  He seems reluctant to give a more exact address, probably to discourage unwelcome visitors.

But what makes this book stand out is what he focuses on in the middle of the book, the bioshelter of the title.  Bioshelters were developed at the New Alchemy Institute, which ran for twenty-one years on Cape Cod in Massachusetts (1971- 1992).  According to Frey, "A bioshelter is a greenhouse managed as an indoor ecosystem.  ... they represent a synthesis of energy-efficient architecture and ecological design."  The bioshelter is the centerpiece of the farm and book has two chapters devoted to 'Bioshelter Defined and Designed' and 'Bioshelter Management'.  It goes on to chapters on 'Compost and Biothermal Resources' (both within the bioshelter and outside of it) and 'Chickens in the Greenhouse' (a part of their bioshelter ecosystem).  He also includes an interesting chapter on 'Permaculture for Wetlands'. 

There's lots and lots of useful stuff in this book--especially if you want to learn about bioshelters and how they could be helpful for commercial farming.  I'd strongly recommend it.  About my only complaint about this book is that for some reason the author included the exact same picture that he took of the "Composting greenhouse at The New Alchemy Institute in 1988" three times in the book--twice with the exact same caption--something that's odd but doesn't negate anything in the book.

Quote of the Day:  "Biodiversity and environmental quality are not just nice things to learn about on cable TV or in magazines.  The natural world is the foundation upon which we all depend.  Stewardship begins in our yards and gardens, and it extends to the choices  we make in what we consume.  The decade or two ahead are critical.  Humans have managed and impacted bioregions for tens of thousands of years.  But the choices we are making now have a stronger and longer-lasting impact on the planet than at any time in human existence." - Darrell Frey


vera said...

Sandy Lake, Pa -- he has plenty of internet presence... maybe he just forgot to tell people where he is? :-)

MoonRaven said...

Thanks, Vera,

I'm wondering if he trusts internet users more than book readers.

Personally, I'd go with the other way around.