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Sustainable Agriculture

See also: CSAs, Farms & Farmers Markets and Local & Sustainable Food.

Sustainable agriculture is agriculture that takes care of the land (without poisoning it with pesticides and depleting the soil) and its inhabitants. It preserves biodiversity of crops and provides a prosperous life for the farm community.


Selected Books

Astyk, Sharon & Aaron Newton
A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil
HD9005.A88 2009x
How city farmers, backyard chicken enthusiasts, victory gardeners, small family farms, kids in edible schoolyards, cooks in their kitchens and passionate eaters everywhere can overthrow our destructive industrial agriculture, and give us hope for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a changing world.
Berry, Wendell
Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food
S441.B472 2009
A progenitor of the Slow Food movement, Wendell Berry reminds us all to take the time to understand the basics of what we ingest. “Eating is an agriculture act,” he writes. We are all players in the food economy.
Duram, Leslie A.
Good Growing: Why Organic Farming Works
S605.5.D87 2005
Over the past decade, organic products have become the fastest growing sector of agriculture. This book explains why organic production and consumption have seen such phenomenal growth in recent years-and, even more important, why they should.
Farming With Nature: The Science And Practice Of Ecoagriculture
Edited By Sara J. Scherr, Jeffrey A. McNeely.
Farming with Nature is a unique collaboration among renowned agriculture and ecological scientists, leading field conservationists, and farm and community leaders. It offers the state of current knowledge of ecoagriculture.
Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture
Kimbrell, Andrew (Editor)
q S589.75.F38 2002
Essays by 40-plus environmental thinkers illustrate the current state of America's agricultural crisis, revealing industrial food production as fatal to consumers because of pesticides and new diseases, fatal to the landscape because of chemical runoff from factory farms, and fatal to rural communities being wiped out by corporate farms.
Franceschini, Amy and Daniel Tucker
Farm Together Now: A Portrait of People, Places, and Ideas for a New Food Movement
S494.5.S86 F73 2010x
Part oral history and part treatise on food politics, Farm Together Now is an introduction to the many individuals who are producing sustainable food, challenging public policy, and developing community organizing efforts.
Frey, Darrell
Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm
S494.5.P47 F743 2011x
This book 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, which markets their produce to Pittsburgh restaurants.
Fukuoka, Masanobu
The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming
S604.F8413 2009
This Japanese guide to no-tillage farming was published first in 1975, based on Mr. Fukoka's 40 years of experience as a natural farmer. It is a philosophical treatise about living in harmony with nature.
Hamilton, Lisa M.
Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness
HD8039.F32 U646 2009
"Journalist and photographer Hamilton presents a multicultural snapshot of the American sustainable agriculture movement, profiling a Texas dairyman, a New Mexican rancher and a North Dakotan farmer, all who have converted from conventional to sustainable agriculture for economic and personal reasons." -- Publishers Weekly
Ikerd, John E.
Crisis and Opportunity: Sustainability in American Agriculture
S494.5.S86 I38 2008
With the decline of family farms and rural communities and the rise of corporate farming and the resulting environmental degradation, American agriculture is in crisis. Ikerd, one of the most influential proponents of sustainable agriculture, outlines the consequences of agricultural industrialization, then details the methods that can restore economic viability, ecological soundness, and social responsibility to our agricultural system and thus ensure sustainable agriculture as the foundation of a sustainable food system and a sustainable society.
Kimball, Kristin
The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love
S605.5.K563 2010x
Kimball quits her job as a Manhattan journalist and moves to upstate New York to work on a sustainable farm with her fiance. They decided to "live outside of the river of consumption" and their life there is tracked through the seasons.
Kirby, David
Animal Factory: The Looming Threat Of Industrial Pig Dairy And Poultry Farms To Humans And The Environment
TD195.A34 K57 2010
Bestselling investigative journalist David Kirby exposes the powerful business and political interests behind large-scale factory farms, and tracks the far-reaching fallout that contaminates our air, land, water, and food.
The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, And The Community Of Life
Edited By Eric T. Freyfogle.
HD205.N49 2001
Fiction and nonfiction writings gathered here reveal the resurgence of agrarian values and practices in rural areas, suburbs, and even cities. Many of the selections illustrate agrarianism in action, describing people restoring prairies, promoting community farms, and reshaping the built environment. Other selections critique contemporary American culture and its depletion of natural resources.
The Pesticide Detox: Towards a More Sustainable Agriculture
Edited by Jules Pretty
SB975.P47 2005
Hazardous pesticides, their effects on flora and fauna, on those who ingest it with their food, and those who must work around it, haunt the efforts to create sustainable agriculture. In this collection of 15 articles, contributors explore the potential for phasing out hazardous pesticides and phasing in cost-effective alternatives already on the market.
Pfeiffer, Dale Allen
Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food And The Coming Crisis In Agriculture
HD9000.5.P44 2006
Without fossil fuels, artificial fertilizer, pesticides and energy to irrigate, the US can sustain only about two thirds of its present population. Independent journalist and geologist Pfeiffer analyzes the experiences of Cuba and North Korea with agriculture not based on hydrocarbon resources to come up with alternative scenarios for the U.S.
Pyle, George B.
Raising Less Corn, More Hell: Why Our Economy, Ecology and Security Demand the Preservation of the Independent Farm
HD1476.U5 P95 2005
The industrialization of agriculture, with its concomitant economic, geographic, and genetic concentration of plants and animals, not only doesn't serve the interests of small, independent farmers or consumers, it threatens significant national security and environmental dangers.

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Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution
(DVD) HD9012.5.F663 2009x
In the mountains of France, the mayor of a small town has changed the school's lunch menu to locally grown organic foods in order to bring safe food products and healthy diet to the children. This 2008 French documentary shows the abuses of the food industry, the challenges and rewards of safe food production, and the practical solutions that we can all take part in.
Fresh: new thinking about what we're eating
(DVD) HD9005 .F7375 2009x
Fresh celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet. Among others, Fresh features urban farmer and activist Will Allen, sustainable farmer and entrepreneur Joel Salatin, and supermarket owner David Ball.
Fridays at the Farm
(DVD) S605.5.F753 2006x
Feeling disconnected from their food, a filmmaker and his family decide to join a community supported organic farm in Aston, Pennsylvania. As he photographs the growing process, he moves from passive observer to active participant in the planting and harvesting of vegetables.
A River of Waste: The Hazardous Truth About Factory Farms
(DVD) TD930.2.R583 2009x
Documents the environmental and health impacts of the modern industrial system of meat and poultry production.

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Browse the Catalog

For additional titles, browse the library catalog under the subjects:


Pittsburgh Region

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture
PASA's Mission is to promote profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. Check here to find a farm near you.
  • AgRecycle
    Pittsburgh's Agrecycle is Pennsylvania’s leader in organic recycling and the creation of environmentally beneficial soil amendments. AgRecycle partners with food scrap generators to end the wasting of this valuable, recyclable resource and to turn it into usable compost.
  • Pittsburgh Permaculture
    Pittsburgh Permaculture brings tangible examples of permaculture design to Southwestern Pennsylvania and offers a variety of services including educational programming, consultations and professional landscape design.

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Web Sites

  • American Community Garden Association
    Their mission is to promote community gardening because: "community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education."
  • ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
    Here you can find out the basics about Sustainable Agriculture.
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
    "CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production." This website from the National Agricultural Library includes an information center and a database of CSA farms.
  • Food Democracy Now!
    Food Democracy Now! is a grassroots community dedicated to building a sustainable food system that protects our natural environment, sustains farmers and nourishes families. Check here for recent news on the topic.
  • Food Routes
    Where does YOUR food come from? Spending just $10 a week on local food can have a significant impact on your local economy and for family farmers in your region.
  • Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University
    • Feeding the Factory Farm: Implicit Subsidies to the Broiler Chicken Industry
      In a new paper from the Global Development and Environment Institute, Elanor Starmer, Aimee Witteman, and Timothy A. Wise focus on one group of winners of American farm policy that keeps the price of corn and soybeans below what it costs to produce them (through subsidies): industrial, corporate-owned livestock production facilities.
  • How to Go Organic
    This website from the Organic Trade Association explains how producers and processors can become organic providers.
  • National Academies: Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century
    A June 29, 2010, report that concludes: "U.S. farmers are under pressure to satisfy multiple demands, such as to produce more crops, pollute less, fulfill consumer preferences, pay fair wages, and make a living—all with increasingly scarce natural resources such as land and water. To evolve farming systems that meet all of these demands, national agricultural policy, research programs, and food markets need to shift away from emphasizing low costs and high production exclusively and develop a more holistic perspective of how farms provide benefits to society."
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)
    The Northeast Organic Farming Association is an affiliation of seven state chapters: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. You can search for farms on their individual websites.
  • Nourishing the Planet
    In this blog, Worldwatch Institute's Sustainable Agriculture Program highlights many indigenous fruits and vegetables that are underutilized and completely unknown in the United States.
  • Pennsylvania State University: Sustaining Pennsylvania Agriculture
    A sustainable agriculture information center for Pennsylvania.
  • Robyn Van En Center Center for CSA Resources
    This is a resource center for Community Supported Agriculture, in which community members buy a share of a farm and in return get weekly produce. It is located at Wilson College in the Fulton Center for Sustainable Living, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Rodale Institute
    Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach since 1947.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)
    SAN is the communications and outreach arm of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. SARE is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded initiative that sponsors competitive grants for sustainable agriculture research and education in a regional process nationwide
    • Northeast Region USDA SARE
      covering the 12 states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.