Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
- Happy Customers
When Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates moved into a duplex in a run-down part of Holyoke, Massachusetts, the tenth-of-an-acre lot was barren ground and bad soil, peppered with broken pieces of concrete, asphalt, and brick. The two friends got to work designing what would become not just another urban farm, but a "permaculture paradise" replete with perennial broccoli, paw paws, bananas, and moringa—all told, more than two hundred low-maintenance edible plants in an innovative food forest on a small city lot. The garden—intended to function like a natural ecosystem with the plants themselves providing most of the garden's needs for fertility, pest control, and weed suppression—also features an edible water garden, a year-round unheated greenhouse, tropical crops, urban poultry, and even silkworms.
"Paradise Lot is a timeless classic of urban permaculture in action that clearly shows design evolution over time. This is a true model of the change the world needs."
- Geoff Lawton, founder of Permaculture Research Institute and creator of Greening the Desert
"Paradise Lot is an inspiring book that encourages exploration of the possibilities of growing edibles in any and every yard, no matter how small. And not only tomatoes or apples, but all sorts of edibles from hog peanuts (taste much better than their name) to pawpaws to mints to jostaberry. Join Eric Toensmeier and his friend Jonathan Bates on their ten-plus-year journey in creating a garden of eatin' in a very small city lot. I can't wait for the sequel!"
- Lee Reich, PhD, author of Grow Fruit Naturally, The Pruning Book, and Landscaping with Fruit
"Our connection to place defines us as gardeners and farmers just as much as the plants we choose to grow. The integration of perennial plantings, microclimate, and natural beauty comes about by listening to the land. What a delight to then have one of America's preeminent permaculture teachers share his personal story with both place and partner. Sometimes that meaningful insight we need in shaping our own garden path comes from hearing of the successes and foibles other gardeners found on their path. The gift Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates offer in Paradise Lot is their heart for all things green."
- Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower
"Paradise Lot is a magnificent story about how two young broke landless "plant geeks" transform an urban lot into a permaculture heaven capable of producing all their fruit and vegetables as well as attracting suitable mates. The book is a groundbreaking work on temperate-climate permaculture as well as a personal saga, as the author's discovery and discussion of the differences between theory and practice goes beyond anything in the current permaculture literature. The book has a lot of information on growing and using various perennial food plants and, of particular value, it includes specific accounts of what didn't work and why as well as what did. Paradise Lot should be particularly useful to those with small lots or poor or abused soil. Much writing in permaculture is for people with plenty of land and money. This is permaculture for the rest of us. Best of all, Paradise Lot is fun to read. It overflows with love—love of plants, love of land, love of adventuring on the edge of knowledge, and love of living. It's hard to put down. I read it in two large gulps."
- Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener and Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties
"Although many of us dream of creating our ideal urban homestead from scratch, the reality is far less pristine: toxic soil, rampant exotic species, outdated codes, and all the other grit of city life. Paradise Lot is a practical manual, based on hard-won lessons, for working positively with the realities of our cities to create a sustainable, peaceful, and abundant oasis in the urban jungle. In this vivid and engaging work, Eric Toensmeier entices us with his journey as an example, explaining what to do, and what mistakes to avoid, to develop our own versions of an edible urban paradise."
- Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden
"I have finished reading Paradise Lot and really enjoyed it! (Bedside reading takes longer, but your book did not put me to sleep, just gave me sweeter dreams). Thank you all for sharing this part of your lives with your reading fans."
"Congratulations! I’m enjoying reading the book. It’s excellent!"
"One of the great things about this book is that Eric and Jonathan share what didn't work, what they learned the hard way, and their dreams about the future. Paradise is a process, not an end point."
"Rick started reading Paradise Lot and I can tell he loves it."
“Great book, and hard to put down. I devoured it in two nights. I've toured Paradise Lot with Eric and Jonathan and it's an amazing achievement."
"I just finished reading Paradise Lot. It was excellent. I loved it. I am looking forward to future contributions to the permaculture world you have to offer."