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Call of the Reed Warbler

Call of the Reed Warbler 3

A New Agriculture - A New Earth

by Charles Massy
Publication Date: 18/09/2017
5/5 Rating 3 Reviews

**Winner of the Scholarly Nonfiction Book of the Year 2019 at the EPAA**

Is it too late to regenerate the earth? Call of the Reed Warbler shows the way forward for the future of our food supply, our Australian landscape and our planet.

This ground-breaking book will change the way we think of, farm and grow food. Author and radical farmer Charles Massy explores transformative and regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health. It is a story of how a grassroots revolution – a true underground insurgency – can save the planet, help turn climate change around, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food.

Using his personal experience as a touchstone – from an unknowing, chemical-using farmer with dead soils to a radical ecologist farmer carefully regenerating a 2000-hectare property to a state of natural health – Massy tells the real story behind industrial agriculture and the global profit-obsessed corporations driving it. He shows through evocative stories – how innovative farmers are finding a new way and interweaves his own local landscape, its seasons and biological richness.

At stake is not only a revolution in human health and our communities but the very survival of the planet. For farmer, backyard gardener, food buyer, health worker, policy maker and public leader alike, Call of the Reed Warbler offers a tangible path forward for the future of our food supply, our Australian landscape and our earth. It comprises a powerful and moving paean of hope.

Food security & supply
Publication Date:
University of Queensland Press
Country of origin:
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Charles Massy

Charles Massy gained a Bachelor of Science (Zoology, Human Ecology) at ANU (1976), before going farming for 35 years, developing the prominent Merino sheep stud ‘Severn Park’.

Concern at ongoing land degradation and humanity’s sustainability challenge led him to return to ANU in 2009 to undertake a PhD in Human Ecology.

Charles was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service as Chair and Director of a number of research organisations and statutory wool boards. He has also served on national and international review panels in sheep and wool research and development and genomics.

Charles has authored several books on the Australian sheep industry, the most recent being the widely acclaimed Breaking the Sheep’s Back (UQP, 2011)

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  • Call of the Reed Warbler

    by on

    Such an important book to read. I'm learning so much and find myself talking about what I learn often.

  • Review by Robert @ Angus & Robertson

    by on

    This timely and revolutionary book quietly slipped into shelves in 2017. But it is not a quiet book.

    Massy takes true aim at our agriculture and food production and calls for a revolution. The old paradigm of exploitation must be overthrown, and replaced by a more holistic and intelligent approach to the land. We have been caught up in a mechanistic mindset that has taken us to a dead end, and our ravaged land requires urgent action if it is to sustain us.

    But Massy is no anarchic theorist. He is a Monaro sheep farmer who admits to having poisoned his own land though blind obedience to tradition. His journey to a new regenerative agriculture has cost him a great deal, but he has gained much and is passionately committed to sharing. For him there is no alternative to change.

    This intense book is remarkable, and easily my favourite non-fiction of 2017. It is poetic, wise and persuasive. I found it reminiscent of Eric Roll's "A Million Wild Acres", but perhaps mixed with the science of Tim Flannery and the polemic of Vandana Shiva. Massy's profound take on our land cannot easily be shaken off, and will long colour your views of agribusiness and food, plants and waterways. He is not kind to farmers of the old way, but he tells stories to change the mind, so it is more tempered than a mere manifesto. It may carry a weighty judgement and an occasional academic tone, but this book is a vital call for us all. As consumers of produce we are complicit in food production, and if we wish to hear the reed warbler return and sing, we must protect the earth.
    I thoroughly recommend this remarkable book to all that value our land, and I have no doubt it will be a classic to future generations.

  • A Wake-up Call

    by on

    With the recent rapid increases of affluent city populations in many parts of the world, the impacts of Homo sapiens on the ecosystems of planet Earth are becoming more obvious, more complex, more severe, and more dangerous. As sentient major predators with large brains we are obliged to accept and embrace a duty of care to all life for both selfish and altruistic reasons. Many of the problems are undeniably global and we are all involved. What can we do? For starters, read this book – NOW!

    It is a long book (569 pages) about Regenerative Agriculture rather than birds. It has an impressive bibliography and many appropriate notes and references, yet it can be dipped into at random for information, encouragement and enjoyment. It will be a valued resource for discussions and studies about many emergent ideas and practices.

    The Foreword by Valerie Brown whets the appetite and the Introduction is not to be skipped before the 3 main courses.
    Part 1 Anthropocene epoch.
    Part 2 The stories of innovative farmers in many parts of Australia.
    Part 3 A wake up call - as beautiful and persistent as the call of the Reed-Warbler.

    Charles Massy tells the stories of farmers who have moved away from conventional farming practices after experiencing ongoing and catastrophic land degradations.
    He visits the properties to interact face-to-face with the landowners on their farms.
    Their collective awareness and curiosity stimulate the creation of new management systems as they discuss the key interacting elements of all landscapes – sun, water, minerals, microbes, plants, and animals. Their holistic perspectives uncover the enormous diversity and the creativity of interdependent dynamic resilient ecosystems within and above the soil.

    The author has solid credentials – farmer, academic, writer, historian, and thinker. The beautifully evocative writing conveys his love of life, and of the land. He pays homage to the achievements of indigenous Australians, who have farmed this unique ‘Continent Estate’ for over 40,000 years.

    Reading this book will change your perspectives and preserve your sanity - an ideal present for those with feet on the ground and heads in the clouds.

    Peter Thomson - Citizen/ Observer/Passenger.