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Dirt to Soil: One Family's Journey Into Regenerative Agriculture

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  231 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Gabe Brown didn't set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown--in an effort to simply survive--began experimenting with new ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published 2018 by Chelsea Green
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Average rating 4.48  · 
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Lena
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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“We are over fed and undernourished.”

I had not expected to burst into tears at the end of this audiobook but Gabe Brown caught me off guard.

It took four years of hail and drought to show Gabe Brown everything that was wrong with conventional farming; that mimicking, and working with, nature is the resilient, successful, and moral option.

You are a Solarpunk Rock Star Gabe Brown!
Stephen
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aspiring regnerative farmers and ranchers
Shelves: agriculture
Having read a number of books both old and new about soil, food, agriculture and environment, I call this one stupendous. It is a short, extremely practical guidebook on how to change from typical North American farming/ranching to regenerative agriculture. Gabe Brown never tells the reader "Here's what you must do" or "The perfect cocktail of seeds for your winter cover crop is such and such [naming nine varieties]" He says learn from experience, make mistakes and learn from them, find out what ...more
David Rudin
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can think of no better place to start learning about Regenerative Ag. than Gabe Brown’s ranch in North Dakota. Part autobiography, part preaching the gospel of rejuvenating our soil it is an enjoyable read with important lessons to teach. In short, by focusing on feeding and growing the microbiome in the soil using cover crops, animal impacts and eliminating tilling, artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides soil can be brought back to health and so to humans who eat the ...more
Jordan
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional book filled with practical and actionable advice and lots of direction for more study. Really excited to try these ideas on our farm and to have found information beyond “plow it and fertilize it” and “tile it” for our farms soil issues.
Ella
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A positive and informative read making it clear how farmers can make change happen to support the environment, their land and their own profitability. Told from a personal perspective with a huge amount of heart this book makes regenerative agriculture accessible to anyone.
Deb
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I ended up with this book by accident since it was an item at a silent auction fundraiser I was attending, and, since no one had placed a bid on it, I penciled in a starter bid to get things rolling. Yes, well .....
So now I own a book about regenerative agriculture, something I know very little about (being a city girl and all). But, when you own a book, what you do is read it. And I did. It's written like a "how-to" manual, which, I guess, is really what it is. The author gets a little preachy
...more
Maggy
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Now that’s an ag book! WARNING: do not read while drinking or shortly after drinking espresso... you’ll end up with a hundred pounds of 8-way cover crop mixes, a no-till drill, and 4 piglets if you aren’t careful. ...more
Jessica
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: farming
When Gabe Brown and his wife first started farming they took over her family's farm. In the beginning Gabe did everything the "traditional/industrial" way his father-in-law taught him. But, the first four years after taking over were a series of disasters. On the brink of financial ruin, Gabe started thinking outside the box - initially just to save money. But, once he started to see how no-till and cover cropping helped not just his bottom line financially, but in the output of the crops he was ...more
Sue
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature-writing, food
Agribusiness meets environmentalism. Gabe Brown changes the world, one farm at a time. I don’t have a farm and I have never lived on a farm. Still, I like to garden and I am concerned about the state of our planet. Listening to Mr. Brown’s audiobook gives me hope that, as country, we can reunite over our common love of the earth and all she gives us, in spite of our ill treatment of here over the years. Gabe went into regenerative farming out of desperation after four disastrous years of ...more
FRZ
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I went into this hoping to learn something more on a sub-surface / biological level. I did not. I did learn some things around raising livestock but mostly the book seemed like it was someone wrangling the author's ramblings, which I guess it was. It repeated itself a lot and seemed like it was high on itself. Honestly, I think it's a good book for someone that doesn't know anything about no-till agriculture or about the importance of native grasses in an ecosystem, but if you fall out of that ...more
Catherine
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If I could only memorize every single word of this book and regurgitate it on demand. Seeing how that’s highly unlikely, I will be recommending it to every farmer, every coworker, and every human I know. It gets into the weeds with regard to farming technique, which will be appealing to the farming community and maybe not so appealing to, say, a townie. AND YET! Even a townie can grow stuff and eats stuff and can do stuff to help heal the planet. Please read it if you can. Or listen to it like I ...more
Rachel G
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book isn’t just for farmers or ranchers. This is a great read if you are interested in healthy living and eating, sustainable practices, and being good caretakers of our world.
My dad is involved in the regenerative soil health movement, so I was familiar with Brown’s Ranch and a bit of Gabe’s story. Nonfiction is not my typical genre, but his experiences and wisdom are so compelling that I was interested from beginning to end.
I enjoyed hearing Gabe’s narration. His passion for his message
...more
Wesley
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone in agriculture
Recommended to Wesley by: A neighbor
A highly educational book along with a great story of a farm family to boot.

The book focuses on informing the reader of the what, how and why of soil repair, maintenance and regeneration. There is good science in this book which is introduced and talked about in such a way that anyone can understand it.

Gabe Brown is a good writer and the book is laid out in such a way that both the story of the family farm and the learning process is natural and simple to follow and ...interesting!

It is not
...more
Megan Moir
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 stars! Great, straightforward writing and convincing ideas. When I get my acreage and start a farm, I’ll be up at night reading this book again, this time with a notepad and highlighter. I believe everyone could get something out of this book, even if you aren’t a rancher or farmer. The philosophy of trusting nature to increase biodiversity in your soil and placing that first in line of importance when managing land can truly change everything. Recommend!
Todd Burris
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
A great journey about adapting to situations and questioning established models. The author's success came over decades of trial and error and small changes. Biggest takeaway: "change the way you think vs. change the way you do things". View farming as an enterprise instead of a commodity and Earth as an assistant instead of a foe and you will provide an abundance of wealth for your family and others'. Worth the listen and worth imitating.
Cathy
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting account of what no-till and crop/livestock diversification are doing to rejuvenate soil. Some of it reminds me of Michael Pollan’s work, but I’m sure it rings so much truer for so many from the mouth of a North Dakota farmer who has spent years employing these practices (rather than a journalist).
Scott
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The hippie in me gravitates toward these types of books. I wanted to love it and mostly did. However, it did get a little preachy, was repetitive, and was a bit of a slog in the middle. I did not cry at the end as other reviewers claim to have done, though the ending is nice. Overall, an inspiring and informative, if rambling, read.
Steve Thorn
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the most inspiring and encouraging booka I've read in a long time. Answeres my questions about scaling up good gardening practices to crop farming with a resounding YES! Brown clearly lays out his regenerative farming practices in a clear, engaging way. It was hard to put his story down.
Sander Hiire
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: farming
I listened the audiobook narrated by the author. Very good personal success story on how to generate more income per acre while building up farm versatility, soil health and moving towards a product than just bulk. Very inspiring and good introduction to regenerative agriculture vast topic.
Nevau
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great, easy-to-read look into the actual practical application of wholistic agriculture and it's environmental restorative capabilities. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in wholistic, natural, or regenerative agriculture.
Craig Scharton
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had watched some YouTube videos with Gabe Brown and a few podcasts too. The book really makes the case for regenerative Ag with clear data, personal experiences (including failures) and case studies. Read it and help to save the planet.
Ross Hougham
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
“God would not create an imperfect system....God created you, so do something.”

Wow, this book is as fascinating as dirt!
Alysia
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must for any farmer/rancher. Educational and easy to read. Great stories and advice for regenerative farming. Not pushy, but simply tells his story.
Mary Appophia
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Informative, relevant, practical and inspirational.
Frances
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kinda made me want to be a farmer
Janet Shelton
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic and inspirational. Who would think that soil can be so interesting!
Carrie Jensen
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So inspiring! I can't wait to put all of his practices into play in my own garden.
Becky Simon
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent information. Cleared up a few questions, added lots more. Very good information for everyone, but absolutely necessary if you want to farm/ ranch/ raise animals.
D
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
the browns' incidental discovery of regenerative practice is an emotional backdrop for a detailed + accessible regenerative ag guidebook
Daniel Brown
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed it, learned a lot and enjoyed hearing Gabe’s Journey
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