Paradise Lot Book Review

Paradise Lot:
- Eric Toensmeier (author)
and Jonathan Bates (contributor)

Book Review

Paradise Lot is a delightful story that inspires hope for a better future. It is all about edible landscaping and, quite importantly, permaculture. This is an example of urban gardening at its finest!

Eric Toensmeier is the primary author, but I enjoyed reading the contributions from Jonathan Bates as well. It provides two complementary perspectives from a couple of plant geeks who've managed to push the limits of what can be achieved in a 1/10th of an acre. Along the way, they've learned lots of lessons and inspired their community. They even found wives who have enhanced their lives beyond anything they could have hoped for!

To be honest, at first I was overwhelmed. As I read of the schooling and formal training that Eric was undergoing, it reminded me that I'm just a hobbyist. I have no certifications. But then I began to be inspired as I realized that much of what Eric and Jonathan learned was a result of informal research along with trial and error. Creating a temperate permaculture food forest took them into uncharted territory. Formal training is good, but at a certain point you just have to jump in!

I loved reading about the different edible perennials that were tested on the Paradise Lot. I learned more about fruit tree guilds. I began compiling a personal list of things I plan on trying out. It's nice to get first hand impressions from experienced growers. What's invasive? What's hardy in my zone? Nitrogen fixers? What grows good with what? There is a nice handy reference table at the back of the book too.

I know very few people who share my perspective on growing food at home. I was an 'edible landscaping' advocate before I even realized the term existed. This book puts you into the minds of a couple of guys who love plants, love community and love challenges. Reading their views, truly struck a chord with me and made me feel a little less lonely in the world.

Eric Toensmeier says: "It seems to me that the goal of an environmental community should be not to reduce our impact on the landscape but to maximize our impact and make it a positive one, or at the very least to optimize our effect on the landscape and acknowledge that we can have a positive role to play." - page 128

Meanwhile, Jonathan Bates sums up his and his wife's plans for life: "We have a simple, creative life, full of family and friends, laughter and love, connected to the land and supported by meaningful work, with the time to appreciate it and experience it fully." - page 163

How have Jonathan and Meg found such an enriching life? What insights have led Eric to recognize the role that humans should play within our environment? Paradise Lot explains...

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