A few months ago I got to talk to Bill Davison, a Savanna Institute staff member based in central Illinois. Bill works to develop value chains for Midwest tree crops, and has recently been focused on scaling up the Midwest chestnut industry. Bill served in the Army after high school and worked as a biologist, farmer, bike mechanic, and Extension agent before joining the Savanna Institute. 

In my time working with Bill, I’ve learned that he’s a deep thinker who is great at making the connections between practical considerations about agroforestry and more esoteric ideas about health, art, and society. Bill is an avid birder, reader, and podcast listener, and I love getting his reading and listening recommendations. 

For your reading and listening pleasure, here is the full list of recommendations Bill made during our interview, along with his comments:

The New Farmer’s Almanac – Greenhorns
“It’s really beautiful, life-affirming work, and it’s nice to read writing of other farmers about their direct experience”

The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
“All you have to do is realize we’re all creative beings, so you don’t have to get hung up on the word ‘artist’, whether you think of yourself as an artist or not… because I didn’t, but I just thought, we all can create. Let’s just see where this takes me. The thing that really helped me with this book is the notion that the process is the reward.”

Bill’s Top 3 Podcasts:
Rich Roll Podcast
Charles Eisenstein Podcast
The Tim Ferriss Show

Deep work & focus:
Yohan Hari
Cal Newport
“What are all the things you can do to be less distracted?”
“You’ve gotta be able to focus your mind and your willpower… otherwise, likely you won’t get access to land over the long term, and you’ll be stuck raising vegetables!”

Regeneration – Paul Hawken
“The solution to climate change is for people to have meaningful work to do.”

Towards thick legitimacy – creating a web of legitimacy for agroecology – Maywa Montenegro, Alastair Iles
“I’ve been recommending this paper to everyone lately! I’m not sure how many people are actually reading it…”

Growth mindset – Carol Dweck, Dr. Andrew Huberman 
“It makes me wonder what a growth mindset would look like in agroforestry and regenerative agriculture.”