It’s that time of year! As the holiday season ramps up, it can be tricky to find the perfect gift for that farmer, or farmer-wanna-be, on your list. Books are a fantastic gift for the holidays.
I am a voracious reader. My budget to buy books is somewhat large (on the order of $500-800/year). But out of all the books I read, there are a few that simply stand out as providing the best value for the money spent.
Here are my top 9 books that should be on the shelf of anyone looking to grow food, raise livestock or make more sustainable choices for themselves (This post contains affiliate links). These books cover chickens, livestock, gardening and two that are just great must-reads for anyone on your list:
The Small-Scale Poultry Flock – by Harvey Ussery – 2011: Hands down the best chicken book I have in my collection. If you only want to buy ONE book on a topic, then this is the one for raising chickens. Packed with clear information, covering all the aspects of chicken-keeping, filled with excellent photos that help explain the text, and using a natural approach, this is book is the rock-star of chicken books. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
The Chicken Health Handbook, 2nd Edition – by Gail Damerow – 2015: This is also a must have for the shelf of any chicken owner. The book is well organized, well illustrated, and very approachable in its style, making it a go-to book if you see a problem in your flock and you want to get to the bottom of it.
Salad Bar Beef – by Joel Salatin – 1995: Yup – this might be an older title, but this book is packed full of great information about raising cattle on pasture. It covers all the steps for rotational grazing, cattle care, pasture maintenance and even marketing of grass-fed beef. A great read and a great addition to any livestock farmer’s shelf, regardless of the type of animals you are grazing.
Grass-Fed Cattle – by Julius Ruechel – 2006 – This is a great read covering everything from the fundamentals of grass-fed beef through to the infrastructure you need and the business planning and marketing of your products. It even has sample forms and tables you can use in your business planning and information tracking. Definitely worthy of a well-stocked library.
Gardening: I have 3 great picks for the gardener on your list!
All New-Square Foot Gardening , 3rd Edition – by Mel Bartholomew – 2018: This is my all-time favorite gardening book. I have owned every edition, and I often give this book as a gift to my friends who say they want to start gardening. This book explains how to grow a LOT of food in a very small space. And it works! I have used this method for years in all my gardens, big and small. Grow more, weed less, and enjoy the freshest food that exists. My stand-by top gardening book pick.
The Winter Harvest Handbook – by Eliot Coleman – 2009: This is a must read for anyone who wants fresh vegetables year round. Coleman’s farm tested methods of extending the season have something to offer anyone looking to create a reliable source of food or income.
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening – by Peter Burke – 2015: Here is a way that ANYONE with a window can grow a garden. This book delivers on it’s name. I LOVE the soil sprouts promoted by Burke. Since reading this book a couple of years ago, I grow these windowsill sprouts every winter to take a bite of the cost of winter salad greens. Simple to do. Incredible to eat. And you just have to try soil-sprouted sunflower seeds! They are my absolute favorite.
Great Food-Related Reads
Omnivore’s Dilemma – by Michael Pollan – 2016: This book should be required reading for anyone who eats. Seriously. It is a well written story of Michael’s investigation into our food systems and how we got to where we are today.
Blue Mind – by Wallace J. Nichols – 2014: No gardeners or farmers bookshelf would be complete without this amazing look at water and our relationship to it. Blue Mind explores water and why we feel happier when we are connected to it. Backed by some amazing science and research, this book explores how water connects us to each other and to the planet.