Everyone has a story of how they came to learn about regenerative agriculture. Perhaps it was a conversation with a friend, an article found online, or through other alternative farming methods like permaculture. However the introduction happens, many of us turn to books in hopes of making sense of this new-to-us way of farming and living in cooperation with the land – and with good reason! From field guides to case studies, the regenerative reading list is long with practical resources and inspiring stories about changing the world through food and farming. Below are a few of the titles we’re reading right now to learn from the experts and stay inspired about the transformative, necessary work of regenerative agriculture.
1. The One Straw Revolution
A scientist by trade, Masanobu Fukuoka spent his life opposing the global food system and modern agribusiness in search of a radically better way to farm, eat, and simply be. He penned this manifesto after three decades of perfecting his “do nothing” approach to growing food, rooted in common sense and the elimination of excess effort. This read is part philosophy, part advice, and 100% required reading for anyone looking for a deep-dive into the alternative food movement.
2. For the Love of Soil
Agroecologist Nicole Masters understands the importance of considering the soil when it comes to farming, and she makes a case for adopting a soil-first approach to land management in her book, For the Love of Soil. By sharing case studies from regenerative farms across the globe, Masters offers actionable, easy-to-understand tools and guidelines to help any farmer or gardener begin implementing regenerative practices and revitalizing our food system.
3. Holistic Management
Allan Savory used to believe cattle and livestock were the culprits behind desertification and rapid climate change. That is, until he made one of the most regretful mistakes of his life and discovered our problem all along has been a history of poorly managed resources and disregard for our natural ecosystems. In Holistic Management, Savory explains how properly managed grazing livestock and prioritizing soil health can reverse environmental degradation and heal our land.
4. Growing a Revolution
After traveling the world to meet farmers on the frontlines of the regenerative movement, geologist David R. Montgomery understood why feeding the world depends on how we farm the soil. In Growing a Revolution, Montgomery explains what’s at stake for the future of our food system and how adopting a conservation approach to agriculture can curb global disaster and reverse climate change.
5. Restoration Agriculture
In Restoration Agriculture, Mark Shepard tells his story of using permaculture principles and perennial crops to restore his conventional Wisconsin row-crop grain farm back to a thriving, biodiverse, and productive commercial-scale farm. If you’re still scratching your head about the real-world viability of using permaculture to feed and fuel the world, this book may be the explanation you’ve been waiting for.
6. Growing Perennial Foods
Acadia Tucker loves perennial foods for a handful of reasons, one of the most important being that she knows they play an important role in building a resilient food system. They can also handle unpredictable weather and drought, require little effort or maintenance, taste amazing, and Tucker wrote this book to help us all grow more of them. A true field guide, Growing Perennial Foods comes with a host of pen and ink illustrations, an FAQ section in the back, and plenty of space to write in your own grower’s notes.
7. The Art and Science of Grazing
For anyone wanting to get knee-deep in the details on the principles of livestock grazing management, this resource from Sarah Flack is a must read. The Art and Science of Grazing offers a practical guide to designing and managing grazing systems that consider the needs of both plants and animals equally, resulting in a symbiotic relationship between grazing livestock and the grasses they consume.
8. Dirt to Soil
What happened when poor weather, crop failures, and financial crises put Gabe Brown’s family farm in jeopardy? A fight to survive that ended in regeneration. In Dirt to Soil, Brown shares their journey of transitioning a North Dakota farm to regenerative agriculture practices and learning the importance of soil health. By constantly working to bring more life to the land, Brown and his family have been able to rebuild several inches of topsoil as they witness their farm’s living ecosystems return to life.