Out of the Scientist's Garden: A Story of Water and Food

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Csiro Publishing, 2010 - Gardening - 193 pages
Out of the Scientist's Garden is written for anyone who wants to understand food and water a little better--for those growing vegetables in a garden, food in a subsistence plot or crops on vast irrigated plains. It is also for anyone who has never grown anything before but has wondered how we will feed a growing population in a world of shrinking resources.

Although a practicing scientist in the field of water and agriculture, the author has written, in story form accessible to a wide audience, about the drama of how the world feeds itself. The book starts in his own fruit and vegetable garden, exploring the "how and why" questions about the way things grow, before moving on to stories about soil, rivers, aquifers and irrigation. The book closes with a brief history of agriculture, how the world feeds itself today and how to think through some of the big conundrums of modern food production.

* Gives an in-depth understanding on how plants and soil work using stories more than the language of science.
* It is not a "how to" book, but a framework over which to lay your own experience, to learn and reflect.
* Information for gardeners on the challenge of growing food and feeding a family in the city
* Covers plants, soil and rivers and the journey from hunter-gatherer to modern agriculture
* Reflects on the way scientists conduct their craft
* A book for anyone interested in food, how it is grown and how the world feeds itself

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User Review  - Beaujolais - LibraryThing

An enlightening perspective from an Australian scientist on growing plants for food. It highlights the immense challenges the world faces to feed the growing population. Very readable and relevant. Read full review

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This is an excellent book on sustainability and feeding the world. I really enjoyed it. I read it cover to cover, in one day, so I think that’s good evidence it's an easy and engaging read. It is written in a very accessible, bite size way so the reader can jump from essay to essay or work their way through the entire book. It manages to put complex ideas about sustainable agriculture, organic farming and water conservation in a simple and accessible way.
Most interesting of all, it takes you inside the mind (and career) of a scientist and makes it seem worthwhile and real. In this sense, it woudl make a great school textbook – especially for secondary students who are interested in Science, especially Agriculture or Biology. It would really inspire them to consider it as a career and justify it as helping the planet.
Indeed, the book's greatest strength may well be to show you how a scientist THINKS on a level which laypeople can understand. It is impressive in the way that it takes the reader inside the way of thinking you need to be a scientist, and its benefits.
It certainly doesn’t offer any simple solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems of water scarcity, food shortages and land degradation. However, it does offer a recipe for wisdom – which is finally more important if the solutions themselves are not simple. This book makes a strong case for HOW to think about our world and the environment and the complex task of growing things and doing Agriculture sustainably.


The view from our garden
A journey through soil
Feeding ourselves
Reflections in the scientists garden
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About the author (2010)

Richard Stirzaker studied Agricultural Science and then completed his PhD at the University of Sydney. He joined CSIRO in 1990 and is currently a Principal Research Scientist based in Canberra working on irrigation, water productivity and the ecological footprint of agriculture. He is also an honorary professor in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

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