Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (Conservation Classics)

Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (Conservation Classics)

Author(s): J. Russell Smith

Publisher: Devin-Adair Pub

Paperback: 422 pages

ISBN: 0933280440

ISBN-13: 978-0933280441

Order From: Amazon.com
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Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (Conservation Classics)

This is an amazing book! Published in 1950, it is the second, enlarged edition of a book originally written in, I think, 1939. It reflects a lifetime of research around the world and personal trials on the author’s farm in Virginia on the uses of tree crops for animal and human food. It anticipates the permaculture literature in advocating a “two-storey” agriculture, with tree crops (primarily nuts) as the primary source of animal fodder on sloping and hilly land. It documents the incredible productivity of tree crops and their traditional uses as fodder for pigs, goats, cattle, and poultry. I was particularly struck by the evidence from southern Europe, where extensive chestnut forests produce(d) some of the finest pork in the region. But there is evidence from around the globe, attesting to not only the uses of tree crops but their potential for breeding to build on that potential.

Following up on Smith’s advice, I went to my local garden shop recently to inquire about honey locusts. Oh yes, I was told, we sold quite a few to the city as shade trees. No, no, I said, I want a messy variety, one that drops bushels of pods. She looked it up. Apparently the breeders have indeed been at work since Smith wrote — eliminating the seeds from a tree that could provide nutritious feed to replace the corn and soy beans whose production has been ravishing the planet for decades! The book should be in every permaculturalist’s library but in every rural public library, as well, and regularly taught in our terrible agricultural colleges.

–Michael Foley

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