Tag Archives: Celebrate Earth Day

ReadUP for Earth Day Weekend!

Earth Day is this weekend, and today we’re highlighting our best new reads to celebrate conservation, biodiversity, and sustainable living.


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Kentucky Heirloom Seeds: Growing, Eating, Saving

Saving seeds to plant for next year’s crop has been key to survival around the globe for millennia. However, the twentieth century witnessed a grand takeover of seed producers by multinational companies aiming to select varieties ideal for mechanical harvest, long-distance transportation, and long shelf life. With the rise of the Slow Food and farm-to-table movements in recent years, the farmers and home gardeners who have been quietly persisting in the age-old habit of conserving heirloom plants are finally receiving credit for their vital role in preserving both good taste and the world’s rich food heritage.

Kentucky Heirloom Seeds is an evocative exploration of the seed saver’s art and the practice of sustainable agriculture. Bill Best and Dobree Adams begin by tracing the roots of the tradition in the state to a 700-year-old Native American farming village in north central Kentucky. Best shares tips for planting and growing beans and describes his family’s favorite varieties for the table. Featuring interviews with many people who have worked to preserve heirloom varieties, this book vividly documents the social relevance of the rituals of sowing, cultivating, eating, saving, and sharing.

Purchase Here.


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Living Sustainably: What Intentional Communities Can Teach Us about Democracy, Simplicity, and Nonviolence

In light of concerns about food and human health, fraying social ties, economic uncertainty, and rampant consumerism, some people are foregoing a hurried, distracted existence and embracing a mindful way of living. Over the course of four years, A. Whitney Sanford visited ecovillages, cohousing communities, and Catholic worker houses and farms where individuals are striving to “be the change they wish to see in the world.” In this book, she reveals the solutions that these communities have devised for sustainable living while highlighting the specific choices and adaptations that they have made to accommodate local context and geography. She examines their methods of reviving and adapting traditional agrarian skills, testing alternate building materials for their homes, and developing local governments that balance group needs and individual autonomy.

Living Sustainably is a teachable testament to the idea that new cultures based on justice and sustainability are attainable in many ways and in countless homes and communities. Sanford’s engaging and insightful work demonstrates that citizens can make a conscious effort to subsist in a more balanced, harmonious world.

Purchase Here.


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Water in Kentucky: Natural History, Communities, and Conservation

Home to sprawling Appalachian forests, rolling prairies, and the longest cave system in the world, Kentucky is among the most ecologically diverse states in the nation. Lakes, rivers, and springs have shaped and nourished life in the Commonwealth for centuries, and water has played a pivotal role in determining Kentucky’s physical, cultural, and economic landscapes. The management and preservation of this precious natural resource remain a priority for the state’s government and citizens.

In this generously illustrated book, experts from a variety of fields explain how water has defined regions across the Commonwealth. Together, they illuminate the ways in which this resource has affected the lives of Kentuckians since the state’s settlement, exploring the complex relationship among humans, landscapes, and waterways. They examine topics such as water quality, erosion and sediment control, and emerging water management approaches. Through detailed analysis and case studies, the contributors offer scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and general readers a wide perspective on the state’s valuable water resources.

Purchase Here.


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Mammoth Cave Curiosities: A Guide to Rockphobia, Dating, Saber-toothed Cats, and Other Subterranean Marvels

Sir Elton John, blind fish, the original Twinkie, President Ronald Reagan’s Secret Service detail, and mummies don’t usually come up in the same conversation—unless you’re at Mammoth Cave National Park! Home to the earth’s longest known cave system, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America.

In this charming book, author and cave guide Colleen O’Connor Olson takes readers on a tour through a labyrinth of topics. She discusses scientific subjects such as the fossils of prehistoric animals and the secret lives of subterranean critters, and she provides essential information on dating in the cave (the age of rocks and artifacts, not courtship). Olson also explores Mammoth Cave’s rich history, covering its use as the world’s first tuberculosis sanatorium as well as its operation as a saltpeter mine during the War of 1812, and shares the inspirational story of the park’s first female ranger. Whether you’re visiting the national park, thinking about visiting, or just curious about a place recognized as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, don’t miss this delightful guide to the wild and wonderful subterranean world of Mammoth Cave.

Purchase Here.


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Kentucky’s Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity

Kentucky’s ecosystems teem with diverse native species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Kentucky’s Natural Heritage brings these sometimes elusive creatures into close view, from black-throated green warblers to lizard skin liverworts. The aquatic systems of the state are home to rainbow darters, ghost crayfish, salamander mussels, and an impressive array of other species that constitute some of the greatest levels of freshwater diversity on the planet.

Kentucky’s Natural Heritage presents a persuasive argument for conservation of the state’s biodiversity. Organized by a team from the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, the book is an outgrowth of the agency’s focus on biodiversity protection. Richly detailed and lavishly illustrated with more than 250 color photos, maps, and charts, Kentucky’s Natural Heritage is the definitive compendium of the commonwealth’s amazing diversity. It celebrates the natural beauty of some of the most important ecosystems in the nation and presents a compelling case for the necessity of conservation.

Purchase Here.


Visit our website to explore all of our titles in Nature and Environmental Studies

Celebrate Earth Day and the Culture of the Land

Springtime is here, and that brings Earth Day- one of our favorite holidays around the office! Whether you celebrate by planting a tree or garden, taking a walk, turning out the lights for an hour or two, or just recommitting yourself to doing all the little things you can to help preserve our planet’s ecosystems, The University Press of Kentucky has some great books that can inspire your Earth-love.

The following books come from our Culture of the Land series, edited by Norman Wirzba, and is devoted to the exploration and articulation of a new agrarianism that considers the health of habitats and human communities together. Far from being a naive call to return to the land, the books show how agrarian insights and responsibilities can be worked out in diverse fields of learning and living: history, politics, economics, literature, philosophy, urban planning, education, and public policy. Agrarianism is a comprehensive worldview that, unlike other forms of environmentalism that often presuppose an antagonistic relationship between wilderness and civilization, appreciates the intimate and practical connections that exist between humans and the earth.

A full listing of the titles in the Culture of the Land series can be found here.

Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher documents Kirschenmann’s evolution and his lifelong contributions to the new agrarianism in a collection of his greatest writings on farming, philosophy, and sustainability.

“Fred Kirschenmann may not be as well known as Wendell Berry or Wes Jackson, America’s other indispensable farmer-philosophers, but the publication of this superb collection of essays should fix that. These essays make clear to all what some of us have long known: that Fred is one of the wisest, sanest, most practical, and most trusted voices in the movement to reform the American food system.”–Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

In From the Farm to the Table, over forty farm families from America’s heartland detail the practices and values that relate to their land, work, and communities. Their stories reveal that those who make their living in agriculture–despite stereotypes of provincialism perpetuated by the media–are savvy to the influence of world politics on local issues.

“Rural America is not somehow ‘behind us,’ a part of a past that is no longer central to our lives. For all of us, Holthaus shows, the thinking of rural people is relevant to the well-being of the nation and far more complex than we have realized. This book provides fresh insight into what is going on in the rural countryside and what farmers themselves have thought about those changes.” –Donald Worster, author of Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas

Coming in Fall 2011:

The costs of industrial agriculture are astonishing in terms of damage to the environment, human health, animal suffering, and social equity, and the situation demands that we expand our ecological imagination to meet this crisis. In response to growing dissatisfaction with the existing food system, farmers and consumers are creating alternate models of production and consumption that are both sustainable and equitable. Growing Stories from India demonstrates that conventional agribusiness is only one of many options and engages the work of modern agrarian luminaries to explore how alternative agricultural methods can be implemented.

“This book is highly significant for its stunning cross-cultural leaps that work. Sanford’s call to environmentalists to turn their minds from wilderness to agriculture is of enduring significance.”—Ann Grodzins Gold, author of In the Time of Trees and Sorrows: Nature, Power, and Memory in Rajasthan