Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook
Hands-On Healing Remedies
The Encyclopedia of Country Living – 40th Anniversary Edition
Web Resources


The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook
From the Garden to the Table in 120 Recipes
By Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman
Workman, 2012
496 pgs., paperback, $22.95

The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook is an inspirational book to keep handy, for the garden and the kitchen. Damrosch (MOFGA’s past president) and Coleman have decades of gardening experience and are always looking for ways to maximize production by creating the best soil possible and simplifying cultivation techniques.

The first five chapters of this new book cover vegetable and herb gardening briefly and in terms that make it understandable and doable for anyone – from nourishing the soil (with an emphasis on compost and leaf mold, and untrampled soil) and planning the garden layout, to crops to grow and how to grow them, to tools and methods that make gardening simpler and more productive. For instance, when you harvest a cabbage, leave the root and a bit of the stem in the ground; four small cabbages will emerge later.

The abundant and beautiful color photos and illustrations throughout the book demonstrate the authors’ philosophy that “there’s no reason why a vegetable garden should not be gorgeous.” Likewise, their suggestion for incorporating edible plants such as grapes into the landscape shows how to create a paradise (from the Greek word for “walled garden,” we learn). That paradise, say the authors, includes growing healthy crops that resist pests so that toxic products aren’t needed.

The second part of the book offers recipes that use the crops you’ve grown, and tips for efficient kitchen work. Cut corn on the cob over an angel food cake pan, for instance, so that the kernels fall into the pan. Grow ‘Piracicaba’ broccoli, because its brush-like flower heads pick up lots of dip. Enjoy Stuffed Squash Blossom Fritters, Salad with New Potatoes, Smoked Salmon, and Peas, or Oven-Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Lemon and Rosemary.

If anyone asks you for a good introductory gardening book, this would be the one. Garden technique descriptions are clear and simple, and the recipes will make you want to grow, prepare and enjoy as much of your own food as possible.

– J E


Hands-On Healing Remedies – 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies
By Stephanie Tourles
Storey, 2012
320 pgs., paperback, $18.95

Stephanie Tourles of Orland, Maine, is a prolific writer and engaging presenter about healthful foods and herbs. Her most recent work, Hands-On Healing Remedies, is a must-have for the bookshelf.

Beautifully designed and printed, with delightful watercolors by Samantha Hahn, the book is lovely to hold and view. Top that off with superb organization, a good list of resources and an excellent table of contents and index, and you have an easy-to-use book.

Tourles learned about “medicines from the earth” from her grandfather in Georgia, who, in turn, learned from his mother in the hills of Appalachia. Subsequent training led Tourles to become a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and community herbalist.

“I devote my career to plant-based topical remedies and nutritional therapies for skin disorders,” says Tourles in Hands-On Healing Remedies. The book clearly and attractively displays on each page one recipe for a topical herbal healing formulation that Tourles has perfected over 30 years.

The book begins with a brief history of herbalism, a discussion of ingredients in over-the-counter products applied to the skin and their potential harmful effects, and information about the body’s largest organ – the skin. Two more chapters cover safer, natural ingredients and tools used to make topical products at home.

Then come the recipes, organized alphabetically by condition, from alopecia, anxiety and arthritis, to sunburn, warts (common) and women’s intimate concerns. Each section explains the condition and lifestyle and dietary changes that may help resolve it, followed by a few recipes for herbal products specific for that condition – such as Healing Hot Pepper and Ginger Liniment, “recommended for treating arthritic joints with poor circulation that are cool to the touch while being quite stiff and painful,” or Arthritis Pain-Away Mentholated Oil, “with a cooling energy that will soothe hot, red, inflamed, stiff joints and surrounding tissue.”

Gardeners will welcome a balm and massage oil specific for aching backs.

Learn to make your own deodorant, or your own “real” (free of petroleum products) witch hazel. Stock up on advice and preparations for next year’s cold and flu season.

I liked this book so much that it led me to Tourles’ website,, where she shows in a short segment from TV’s 207 program how to make delicious energy balls from raw ingredients – and raw foods is the topic of another of her books.

– J E


The Encyclopedia of Country Living – 40th Anniversary Edition
By Carla Emery
Sasquatch 2012
928 pgs., paperback, $29.95

This amazing, enormous collection of homesteading knowledge (2 inches thick) came to be, gradually, over many years. Carla Emery, while she was a young mother in rural Idaho during the early ‘70s back-to-the-land movement, started collecting recipes and how-to instructions for new arrivals, gathering information from older friends and neighbors and old recipe books, printing her findings on a mimeo machine and collating them with help from friends. By 1974 she had her first homegrown “edition,” An Old Fashioned Recipe Book, which she sold at summer fairs she attended with her children. The collection grew over the years, was published by Bantam in 1976, became a classic homesteading reference bible for its time, and after being out of print for a while, was brought by Sasquatch.

I love this book and the idea of collecting vast amounts of knowledge, however daunting. Emery’s good, plain, clear, quirky writing is peppered with warm anecdotes from a very real person and her many collaborators. It gives me the impression that I can find anything I want, which was hard before the Internet. The book includes a decent index. The chapters, well marked, run thus: Oddments; Introduction to Plants; Grasses Grains & Canes; Garden Vegetables; Herbs and Flavorings; Tree, Vine Bush & Bramble; Food Preservation; Introduction to Animals; Poultry; Goats, Cows and Home Dairying; Bee, Rabbit, Sheep & Pig. There’s worm farming, too, and mushrooms, Lyme disease, how to save money (bare bones), to stay warm and to eat practically anything.

I enjoy opening the book at random, as is customary with great revered tomes, and finding “Crackers, rolling out” or “Dried Overgrown Zucchini” (to use later in soups). I dip into The Encyclopedia when I have forgotten how to make soap.

The book does not cover building composting outhouses, nor, regarding fermenting vegetables, does it venture much beyond sauerkraut and kimchi. It does not discuss the machinery we depend on so much. Plant pests are not dealt with much, although animal ills are.

Emery died early, in 2005, but she left us this great conscientious and enthusiastic compendium of useful skills that might have been lost without her and that may be useful to us now.

– Beedy Parker


Web Resources
Profitable Poultry: Raising Birds on Pasture, updated in 2012, combines farmer experiences with the latest research for a comprehensive primer on pastured-poultry systems. The free, 16-page bulletin covers the increasing variety of popular alternative poultry systems, from the original Salatin-style moveable pen to day range, free range and chicken tractor systems. The bulletin lists many new resources on poultry processing and budgeting.

A new USDA report, “The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing,” looks at the economic role, challenges and opportunities for food hubs in the growing U.S. local food movement.

What’s the shelf life of various foods? From olive oil to eggs, and lots more, find out at .

The Land Access Project of Land for Good has five publications to help keep New England’s farmers and agricultural lands working. Download them free at The publications are Farm Succession and Transfer: Junior Generation; A Team Approach to Farm Transfer Planning; Landowners Guide to Leasing Land; Farmers without Identified Successors; and Leasing Land to Farmers: Land Trusts, Municipalities.

The New England Farm Account Book, a handy record book, is now available electronically in an Excel spreadsheet format. To obtain a free copy of the electronic spreadsheet with directions on its use, contact Tori Jackson, or 1-800-287-1458.

SARE's new Season Extension Topic Room at is a one-stop collection of dozens of guidebooks, curricula, webinars, bulletins and other how-to materials to help farmers, educators and researchers implement effective season extension strategies.

Monsanto – A Corporate Profile by Food & Water Watch ( is a new report tracing the history of this corporation, which is “steeped in heavy industrial chemical production – a legacy that is extremely at odds with the environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image that the company spends millions trying to convey.” The report details Monsanto’s dominance of genetically engineered crops; its close relationship with the U.S. government, which helps it find loopholes or create regulations that benefit its bottom line; its funding of academic research from public universities; and other traits that make Monsanto “a company that farmers and consumers around the world should fear.”

The Maine YardScaping Partnership has published a free “YardScaping – Five steps to make your piece of the planet a healthier place to live” at This 16-page booklet was originally developed by the City of Seattle, Public Utilities and the King County Solid Waste Division’s Natural Yard Care Program, which allowed Maine to produce its own version for its YardScaping Partnership.


MOF&G Cover Summer 2013