Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier
Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City

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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.

In telling the story of Paradise Lot, Toensmeier explains the principles and practices of permaculture, the choice of exotic and unusual food plants, the techniques of design and cultivation, and, of course, the adventures, mistakes, and do-overs in the process. Packed full of detailed, useful information about designing a highly productive permaculture garden, Paradise Lot is also a funny and charming story of two single guys, both plant nerds, with a wild plan: to realize the garden of their dreams and meet women to share it with. Amazingly, on both counts, they succeed.


About Eric Toensmeier

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Eric Toensmeier has studied and practiced permaculture since 1990. He is the author of Perennial Vegetables and coauthor of Edible Forest Gardens with Dave Jacke. Toensmeier has worked as a small-farm trainer at the New England Small Farm Institute, has managed the Tierra de Oportunidades new farmer program of Nuestras Raices, and is a graduate and former faculty member of the Institute for Social Ecology in Plainfield, Vermont. His current interest is in large-scale permaculture farming as a carbon-sequestering solution to climate change. Toensmeier's writing, consulting, and teaching business is based at, where he posts his latest articles and videos. He lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Jonathan Bates owns Food Forest Farm Permaculture Nursery (, a nursery specializing in educational services and useful/edible plant sales. He's been studying, creating, and working with rural and urban gardens in the Connecticut River Valley for over a decade. With a bachelors degree in biology, and MA in social ecology from the Institute for Social Ecology, Jonathan loves wild crafting with friends, and working with folks to better the world we live in. He cofounded and is a board member of the Apios Institute, is a teacher at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and is a farmer with Nuestras Raices, Inc. He lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Published February 8, 2013 by Chelsea Green Publishing. 240 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Cooking. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The authors chronicle their 10-plus years of trials and experiments, as they transformed their "moonscape" into a permaculture of "trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous perennials" that produced food at every level.

Dec 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks...

Publishers Weekly

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In this charming, true-life tale of urban regeneration and the birth of a forest garden movement, Toensmeier, famous among permaculture enthusiasts for his Perennial Vegetables and as coauthor of Edib

Jan 21 2013 | Read Full Review of Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks...

ForeWord Reviews

In their charming, insightful description of their tiny urban garden in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the two cover twelve years of growing, from their initial reaction to seeing the compacted, gravel-edged soil, to the moment when they have to consider the long-term future of their growing families, w...

Feb 26 2013 | Read Full Review of Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks...

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