Here is a list of books that we consult regularly for inspiration and/or guidance:
- People and Plants of Nepal by Narayan P. Manandhar
An amazing book, with a comprehensive list of most? plants in Nepal, both wild and cultivated. Each plant description has an illustration, and the plant name listed in Latin, English, and the various languages of Nepal (Nepali, Tibetan, Gurung, Tamang, Tharu, etc…). The indexes in the back sort plants by medicinal use, edible wild plants, fiber plants, religious plants…..we use this ALL the time. (Cheap on Amazon US!!)
- One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
This is a great starter book for those of you interested in farming. Fukuoka’s perspective on what agriculture is meant to accomplish, and what man’s relationship with nature looks like in daily life, is extremely unique, grounded, realistic, honest…while simultaneously innovative. We practice what he preaches. Fill out the contact form and we can send you a pdf of the book!
- The Farmer’s Handbooks by Nepal Permaculture Group (Chris Evans)
These are a decade and a half of work done by Chris Evans and the other collaborators at NPG. There are 5 volumes that cover everything from how to build a clay oven, to air-layering fruit trees, to hot bed nurseries, to composting…..they’re extremely easy to read and follow along in pictures. And the scope of the topics applies much broader than just Nepal. They are available in Nepali in hard copy for 1200 NRS at Sunrise Farm in Kathmandu. These are some of the essential books that talk Maki to farm, and the guys in our cooperative also have their hard copies in Nepali.
Download the pdf’s here for free in English: http://www.green-shopping.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=farmers%27+handbooks+nepal
- Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier
An excellent guide to perennials! With a lot of information on how to grow them, how to eat them, and resources for where to find seeds or tubers. It’s also indexed by climate, so you can see (roughly) what perennial vegetables you might be able to grow.
- Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide…. by Sepp Holzer
This book will change the way you approach designing your farm. He is all about using the micro-climates available on your land to grow a wide variety of plants in a very efficient manor. He shows that you can produce a lot of food in a small place if you keep things integrated, and pay attention to the details of the land.
- The Complete Handbook of Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour
This is great for everyone, not just if you farm or live the homestead life. It talks about canning, making bread, slaughtering your own animals, making soap, gardening, even shearing sheep! The pictures are also amazing, the illustrations are really inspirational.
If you can read Japanese, Maki also highly recommends “Nothingness I, II, and III” by Masanobu Fukuoka. They were practically his bible when he was getting started with the farm a few years ago, especially in regards to wild orchard maintenance. There is no English version available.
Here are some organizations, websites, & pdfs that we’ve found useful:
This is an amazing organization that works all around the world supporting farmers, especially those in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Central America. There is a research center in Florida, and the ECHO Asia research center is in Thailand. They breed and select for extremely climate tolerant species of vegetables, fruits, and grains. We find a lot of drought tolerant and perennial varieties that we love through them. If you become a member of ECHO (you have to apply online) they will send you 10 free packets of seeds every year! We definitely got ours this year, which contained lablab, pigeon pea, loofa, sweet corn, inca nut, indigo, and a bunch of other cool stuff.
An excellent central hub for ideas, information, and resources for farmers growing perennial crops. You can see crop profiles for different climates, read articles, source seeds, etc.
Check out Eric Toensmeier’s book “The Carbon Farming Solution” with a complete list of perennial staple crops from around the world!
Lost Crops of the Incas and Africa
These are pretty cool documents. They’re quite large pdfs but they have a list of great grain crops, tubers, and plant species that were widely used and cultivated by the Incan people (near the Andes in South America) and in sub-tropical areas of Africa. For us, these provide really valuable information for our climate, which is dry, warm, and high elevation. We have a lot in common environmentally with the foothills of the Andes and certain parts of Africa. You can find these pdfs and download them for free by simply searching “lost crops of incas/africa” on Google.
Peace Corps Nepal
I believe all of their volunteers are working in agriculture now and they have a plethora of great resources, especially in Nepali, for working with farmers and starting new projects. I was able to meet several PCV’s in Nepal and I’d highly recommend reaching out to volunteers, or the organization in general, if you’re involved in rural agriculture in Nepal! I have a bunch of pdf materials I can share, fill out the contact form under “Get Involved” if you’re interested.
If you’re looking for contacts, more information, or suggestions, please just let us know!