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Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm Paperback – Oct 1 2010

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  • Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; Ill edition (Oct. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716780
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 19.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 925 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


To ensure food security and restore the health of the planet, we need to move beyond industrial agriculture and return to the practice of small-scale, local farming. The Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm describes the creation of a sustainable food system through a detailed case study of the successful year-round organic market garden and permaculture design at Pennsylvania's Three Sisters Farm.

At the heart of Three Sisters is its bioshelter-a solar greenhouse which integrates growing facilities, poultry housing, a potting room, storage, kitchen facilities, compost bins, a reference library and classroom area. The Bioshelter Market Garden examines how the bioshelter promotes greaterbiodiversity and is an energy efficient method of extending crop production through Pennsylvania's cold winter months.

Both visionary and practical, this fully illustrated book contains a wealth of information on the application of permaculture principles. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Design and management of an intensive market garden farm
  • Energy systems and bio-thermal resources
  • Ecological soil management and pest control
  • Wetlands usage
  • Solar greenhouse design and management.

Whatever your gardening experience and ambitions, this comprehensive manual is sure to inform and inspire.

About the Author

Darrell Frey is the owner and manager of Three Sisters Farm, a 5 acre permaculture farm, solar greenhouse and market garden located in Western Pennsylvania. Darrell writes extensively on permaculture design and ecological land use planning and has been a sustainable community development consultant and permaculture teacher for 25 years.

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hélène on April 3 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, this book is not a "fun" read. It has a lot of useful information but it is not pleasant to read. The information is given in a "we did this" manner and sometimes in painstakingly details. When building certain parts for example, the author goes through the list of materials he bought and how he put them together. Sometimes, it is to the screws and their size! Personnally, this is unnecessary and it weights down this already impressive tome (plus it's in these occasions I feel a picture would have been worth a thousand words).

My problem is not that they showed how to build a garden bed, a cold frame or the bioshelter itself, it is that the author only accounts for his specific situation, taking more time answering the question "How?" then answering the question "Why?" and in a book like this, it is a problem because his projects cannot be transposed easily elsewhere since it is a very complex scenario that answers very specific variables.

Beside that however the book does have valuable information on what a bioshelter should require to be financially viable and what you should look out for to make it a thriving business. Just keep your eyes open and don't think too much of it when it is about details that won't really apply to your projects.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Amazing scope, well-organized, extremely useful Jan. 14 2012
By Marilyn P - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a certificate in permaculture from the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA, and am in the very beginning stages of getting a farm going in Oregon. This wonderful book holds an excellent overview of permaculture principles - a great review - then goes on to present details about how they are applied at Three Sisters Farm. In addition to straight permaculture, the authors interweave ecoscience from more mainstream sources, to excellent effect.

Even more special is the thorough presentation of the bioshelter concept, their design, their use of their bioshelter, and - thank you! - thoughts on what they would do differently / how they would adjust their structure. Following the Three Sisters bioshelter are case studies of the structures from other farms.

The book is both very well organized and very well written. It is a treasure, and is going to be a mainstay for me as I lay out the garden and aquaponic areas of my farm. I unreservedly recommend this book. It has wide scope but presents it in a manner that is imminently practical. Can't say enough good things about the book.

Note: The book is, as many farming / gardening books seem to be, focused on what works well in the U.S. northeast where Three Sisters is located. Those of us in different climates can read, understand, and adjust as needed...
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Resource! June 7 2012
By richunclskel - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been an urban farmer/designer for the past 4 years. I have read heaps of books on farming and gardening, and I was surprised by how excellent this book is.

Many books are primers on ideas in modern ecological farming and gardening. This book is not a beginner book on vague permaculture design ideas. It's a very thorough book with case studies of actual projects, showing you how to design, build and run these systems, including the pieces of the bioshelter puzzle (ie- keeping chickens, aquaculture, compost in the bioshelter.) It IS light enough reading though that it provides great inspiration for aspiring gardeners.

It's very practical and he goes into a superb amount of detail on everything, even what kind of lights and fixtures to use. This is really a book to get if you actually plan to employ some of these ideas.

He includes calculations of how to determine how to provide sufficient heat in a greenhouse year round with minimal supplemental heating, how to determine BTUs from compost, etc. This book can get you a lot of the way toward designing a farm project that you feel confident about.

In addition to the bioshelter information, he also talks about the general running of an intensive farm, going through each season. This is stuff that would be helpful to any farm or garden, even if you're just growing for yourself. Darrel is very thorough and you can tell that he put a ton of research and time into writing this book. Highly recommended!
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
What She Said! March 12 2012
By jenn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree 100% with Marilyn P's review. This book is 463 pages of pure gold. They even show you... to calculate how much compost you will need annually, and how much raw material you will need to get there. to figure solar gain, solar storage and heat loss so you can size your heating system, and
...a table of temperate zone wetland plants with their uses and problems.

The only criticism I have is that there are only 8 pages of color photos, and only a modest number of black and white photos or line drawings. They do the job though, and I am not sure what I would have wanted them to leave out so that they could have more photos, so this criticism is really nitpicking. I only hope they find the time to write "Volume 2" to give us a status update on their farm activities, provide more photos, and give us more detail on how to set up the more complicated systems.

As it is, this book is worth every penny!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Awesome book, very detailed. Needs better photos. March 25 2012
By Dr. Denice Moffat - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sure do wish the photos were in color. Some of the photos are duplicated more than once. The words are great though and it's very well thought out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A great book missing some of its audience June 26 2014
By MaddieD - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As some other reviews have well stated, this is a book that covers all the basic theory of sustainable agriculture/gardening/farming as well as many practical aspects. It is written in a direct and accessible style. It is particularly strong on integrated pest management, and the many aspects of the bioshelter. This is a great book for people interested in indoor or urban agriculture since the bioshelter is essentially a very environmentally friendly form of a greenhouse. Since chickens are an integral part of the bioshelter for various reasons, the book would be of interest to some of the growing numbers of people with an interest in chickens. Of course, those engaged in organic and sustainable farming are the natural audience. I have visited Three Sisters Farm and seen all the principles in action. Darryl is the real deal, as his students in permaculture certification and his design customers would agree. One shortcoming specific to the kindle edition is the lack of a table of contents. For Kindle readers, if you go about 2% into the book, there is a page that is basically an annotated table of contents that fully explains the structure of the book. This is helpful for people who, having read all or part of the book once, want to continue to use it at as a reference book. I did some library searches for the book under "farm" and "greenhouse" and was gratified that it did come up, although not as high up as I would wish, under "greenhouse" but I ran out of patience before I found it under "farm." I plan to also acquire a print edition so that I can annotate it in a way that is more intuitive for me. I would like to see a new edition with a subtitle including the word "greenhouse" in some form, and also an index to allow the rapid retrieval of details (like what to do about thrips.)