We read a lot in winter.
There are a lot of books out there on permaculture and regenerative agriculture. There's usually useful information in most of them, but some of them are just leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. This list highlights the ones we've found most helpful in planning and designing our farm.
Our first choice for online bookstore is BetterWorldBooks, which is a book reseller. They donate a book for every book purchased, and turn a percentage of their profits towards grants for libraries and literacy non-profits.
References & Manuals - Cold Climate
The Earth Care Manual
A comprehensive temperate-climate permaculture manual, covering principles, fertility, climate, and how to integrate water, energy, buildings, gardens, tree crops, animals, woodlands, and non-food biodiversity into your living system. Enough depth to make plans on, but without eye-drying technical details. This is one we re-read every year as our farm develops.
Creating a Forest Garden
A food forest mimics how a natural forest grows, but replaces the species in it with edible & useful perennials. This book covers design & maintenance of your seven layers - canopy, small trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, ground cover, and roots. Most useful of all is its encyclopaedia of temperate-climate edible plants and their growth characteristics.
The Resilient Farm and Homestead
A more detailed technical manual for designing a cold-climate farm as a whole system, functioning within the larger system of of your biosphere. Heavy focus on water and earthworks, soil building, and designing to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing climate.
Water for Any Farm
A technical manual on earthworks and water harvesting. This builds on PA Yeoman's "Keyline Design" for North-American climates, including surveying, designing, and constructing water-holding ponds and swales, water-moving ditches and overflows, and adapting design for equipment and maximizing efficiency.
References & Manuals - Other
Big Picture Views
An engaging, whimsical read from one of the masters of the craft of location-specific design. His farm lies 1,100-1,500 metres above sea level in the Austrian Alps, where he uses his observation of microclimates and natural patterns to grow things that he shouldn't be able to grow there. Inspirational.
Sheppard makes a convincing argument - from 20 years of actually doing it on a 106 acre farm - that regenerative farming can not only outproduce industrial farming, it does so without expensive and damaging inputs, gets easier and more abundant every year, and restores soils, ecosystems, watersheds, biodiversity, and rural communities in the process.
The One-Straw Revolution
A thoughtful study of one man's journey towards "do nothing farming" - ie, obtaining the maximum net yield for the minimum input of work. Over decades of trial and error in Japan, Fukuoka questioned the effectiveness of most assumptions in farming, and discovered new and easier ways to achieve the same results using less time and fewer resources.