Restoring Eden: Unearthing the Agribusiness Secret That Poisoned My Farming Community (Paperback)
All spring, Dr. Elizabeth Hilborn watched as her family fruit farm of many years became increasingly diminished, suffering from a lack of bees.
The plentiful wildlife, so abundant just weeks before, was gone. Everything was still, silent.
As an environmental scientist trained to investigate disease outbreaks, she rose to the challenge. Step by step, day by day, despite facing headwinds from skeptical neighbors, environmental experts, and agricultural consultants, she’d assembled information. Her observations provided a framework, a timeline to explain the evidence she’d collected.
The chemicals found in her water samples showed beyond any doubt that not only her farm, but her greater farming community, was at risk from toxic chemicals that travelled with rain water over the land, into water, and deep within the soil. Hilborn was given a front row seat to the insect apocalypse.
Even as a scientist, she’d been unaware of the risks to life from some common agricultural chemicals. Her goal was to protect her farm and the animals who lived there.
But first she had to convince her rural neighbors of the risk to their way of life, too.
A lyrical celebration of nature by a passionate citizen scientist who felt called to advocate for the land, earth, and creatures who don’t have a voice, Restoring Eden ultimately offers hope that citizens can create change, that reform is possible.
“Restoring Eden is a passionate, science-based ecological detective story that teaches us to observe nature, to notice when things are amiss, and to right wrongs. As she discovers the sources of agricultural chemicals extinguishing life in her wetland, Hilborn reveals the personal tolls the loss exacts and the costs she endures to coax neighboring farmers to rethink their practices for the health of their interconnected realms.” —John M. Marzluff, coauthor of Gifts of the Crow and author of In Search of Meadowlarks
“Hilborn tackles one of the great issues of our times in a novelistic way that sucked me in the further I read. It is a beautiful melding of our need for home in the context of love for life in nature and raises the alarm about problems of modern culture associated with the widespread industrialization of agriculture.” —Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven and Bumblebee Economics
“Restoring Eden is a must read. In its pages you will discover the secret agribusiness toxic chemicals that are contaminating the lives of everyone they touch. This means you. If you think this is someone else’s problem, or that you’re safe because you eat organic, read this. If you think one person can’t make a difference, read this. If you think one community can’t come together, read this. We owe big thanks to Elizabeth Hilborn for her courage, tenacity, and love of life in all its forms.” —Hob Osterlund, APRN, Senior Fellow, Safina Center, and author of Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors
“I generally avoid the overused phrase ‘page-turner.’ But Restoring Eden is indeed a page-turner. Beautifully written, passionate, compassionate, deeply human, and deeply informed, this superb and crucial book should not be necessary—but it is. Very. The stakes could not be higher; Life itself is at stake and we are all involved.” —Carl Safina, MacArthur Fellow and author of Beyond Words and Becoming Wild
“A thoroughly engrossing environmental murder mystery that challenges accepted wisdom and exposes the toxic price of conventional farming.” —David R. Montgomery, MacArthur Fellow, coauthor of Growing a Revolution
“When Elizabeth Hilborn sets out to protect a struggling wetland on her North Carolina farm, she discovers that its fate—and her care for it—is shaped by family histories, neighborly relations, the limits of science, and the long reach of global agribusiness. Restoring Eden is a mystery, a memoir, a warning, and a powerful testament to one person’s stubborn love for a place and all its inhabitants.” —Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction
"Illustrating the catastrophic impact of agricultural chemicals on one farm, Restoring Eden conveys a stirring, forceful message about the environmental health of the planet." —Foreword Reviews.
"A beautifully descriptive, lyrical immersion in the natural world that’s coupled with a detective story, reminiscent of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Will likely appeal to readers interested in natural history, ecology, and pollinators" — Library Journal
"An environmental memoir that stirs emotions with the author’s enormous empathy for the wildlife who share her land." — Booklist