Organic inspirations

One of our Facebook friends asked us: “Any good book recommendations besides Organic Manifesto and Pay Dirt which I've read and which are excellent?” So we took an informal poll here at Rodale Institute and compiled a short list of top book recommendations based on the personal reading lists of our staff. What “organically minded” books have inspired you?

Backyard Homestead, Carleen Madigan

Empires of Food, Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas

Farmer Jane: Women Changing The Way We Eat, Temra Costa

Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan, F.H. King

Farming to Create Heaven on Earth, Lisa M. Hamilton

Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer, Tim Stark

Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology, Eric Grissell

Permaculture Principals and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, David Holmgren

Teaming with Microbes, Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis

The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love, Kristin Kimball

The Secret Life of Plants: a Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man, Peter Tompkins

The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, Grace Gershuny

The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, Ben Hewitt

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, Barry Estabrook

Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, Edward C. Smith

We’re also launching a BRAND-NEW book club for anyone local to our Kutztown, PA farm!

Do you enjoy reading? Are you passionate about human and environmental health? Interested in meeting other like-minded people and discussing groundbreaking ideas? Then sign up for this once a month experience. Members will gather at Rodale Institute’s Garden Store pavilion from 1 pm to 3 pm the first Sunday of each month May through October for book discussion and refreshments.

For more information and to join, call the Rodale Institute Store at 610-683-6009 or email


One Response to “Organic inspirations”

  1. andrew beaton

    I am more interested in the history of the organic movement – (that you have played a gigantic role in) I think a biography of Steiner (Lachman) is a must have – and his Agriculture Course as well (why not?)

    For Americans – Crosby’s Columbian Exchange, Cronon’s Changes in the Land… and Worster’s Dust Bowl are probably the foundational works of environmental history (from an american perspective) – I do find it hard do imagine understanding the history of the organic movement without having read them.
    All are easy reads and cheap used.

    I see organic farming as the apex of culture. Living in a place where the vernacular relationship between humans and nature has not been forgotten and or restored is “as good as it gets” – to those of us who have taken the time to fathom when and how nature and culture were torn apart – and how our world has been impacted by this divide.

    Perhaps the greatest advantage of having had researched the history of the organic movement to long before Steiner, is that study has given me the ability to look at the larger picture, not just “change over time” but changed thinking over time.

    Rodale itself is one of a few names that has stood almost alone in the face of a Toilkenesqe horror that still grips our planet. If we do grow beyond here, it will be because of the efforts and great sacrifices made by the Rodales and those who have learned with them.

    Andrew Beaton, MA History (Rutgers, NJIT )


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