As its rather alarming title indicates, it deals exclusively with fecal matter discussed from every possible point of view. The word “holy” is well chosen, because most organic growers would agree that there is a spiritual aspect to the miraculous cycle of birth and death that is at the heart of sustainable agriculture. Logsdon handles with equal ease the philosophy and the nuts and bolts of practical gardening and farming. He clearly detests modern agribusiness and is an enthusiast for small-scale farming, which is far more productive and efficient. He says: “Chicken, goat and sheep manures are at the high-end in nutritional content, cows and pigs at the low end, and horses in the middle. There’s a comfort in this for the garden farmer on small acreage; the more practical animals to keep- chickens, goats and sheep- are also the producers of the richest manure.”
His book covers every possible aspect of his subject; the practical aspects of hauling and spreading properly composted manure, the way animals should be confined to keep them clean, how pigs are naturally clean if allowed to be. He discusses “cat litter and dog dung.” There is a remarkable chapter on the scientific analysis of what exactly fecal matter consists of.
The last chapters deal with the controversial subject of human waste, giving numbers on the vast amount of potential fertilizer that is thrown away in modern society. He accepts that the problem of treating the output from sewers that also accept industrial effluent is virtually insoluble, but points out that the small farmer not connected to the municipal system is in an ideal position to use his own waste, and gives lots of advice on doing this.
Behind Logsdon’s breezy style, one can detect deep worries about the future and the damage done by chemical farming. He says, “It has taken us about one hundred years to reduce soil organic matter to dangerously low levels- from about 5 percent on average, to below 2 percent- and experts say it might take at least that long to build them back up again using organic methods on a large scale.” This is deeply depressing, and as with most of the ills that beset us, we can only each of us do our best in our own small way.