I recently read some gardening books. Unfortunately, I didn’t love any of them! Oh well. But I at least finished 2 of them. Here are my reviews.
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer
Got this book from the ‘free basket’ at work. I don’t think we published it on audio. 4.0 out of 5 stars MY REVIEW: This isn’t a bad book, but it’s not quite what I thought it would be. While the author, Novella, does discuss vegetable gardening, the focus really becomes the ANIMALS she raises on the small empty lot behind her rented apartment in the run-down city of Oakland, CA. That’s all fine and dandy, but since she’s raising them for food, it’s a little…depressing?
Now I am a ‘mostly vegetarian,’ so there’s that factor. And I get the whole ‘I raised the animals myself so they had a better life prior to dying’ deal. But a lot of times I feel like people are just trying to convince themselves in that case. And still, Novella is looking at bunnies and ducks and pigs and thinking how cute they are and how happy they are and how DELICIOUS they will be all in the same breath. I get that meat comes from somewhere and blah blah blah, but it’s kinda disturbing to me. I read the passages where she kills the animals and I’m fine with it, but it still just seems gross.
I don’t think I could be friends with Novella, even though I DO admire what she does and think it’s really cool. She’s got that kind of self-righteous thing going on that you probably have to have to raise 200 pound pigs in a small city lot. And she kind of admits it and all, but in a way that makes me think we would never get along. Which is fine. Just saying.
So anyway – it’s a good book for what it is, but I thought I was going to be reading more about veggie gardening and general garden experiences – the animal raising, dreaming about eating of, and butchering takes up probably 90% of the book. The veggies (and beehive, even) are really incidental.
The Town that Food Saved
Got this one from being a member of Amazon Vine. I love Amazon Vine! My mail lady probably hates it. MY REVIEW:
2.0 out of 5 stars – I really TRIED to like this book. I think I’m the target demographic: I garden, I am increasing my garden space, I have shelves of seeds in a room in my house right now, I have been a CSA member, I support local food. But I couldn’t get past about 50 pages of this book.
First of all, the whole beginning seems to be justifying why the book exists, ie why local is better. If you’re picking up the book at all, you probably already agree, so I found myself skimming along for that part, saying ‘blah blah ok let’s get to the story’.
Then when the story started, I just didn’t care. I mean I guess I kind of knew that the story would be about the local farmers etc, but that’s kinda ALL it’s about. The author, who started the book after writing an article on the town (NY Times, I think? Or something similar), just kinda goes from farmer to farmer and explains what they do and why and how – but NOT in a way that makes me care at all.
For example – for the first 50 pages that I read, EVERY TIME he mentions his one main guy, he also mentions the name of the organic seed business he owns. Every time! Very annoying. I flipped through the rest of the book – one guy does greens, one couple slaughters animals…I get it, but I’m not interested in these people enough to read it. I get that it’s nonfiction, but you’ve still got to make it interesting. One reviewer I think got it by saying that it’s more like a literal retelling of events than a story.
Kind of a shame, because I feel with a different writing style this book could have been enjoyable. As it stands, I’d recommend you just read the article or some googling or something if you’re interested in finding out about how this town’s local food movement took off.
The $64 Tomato
Bought this one a while back from the bargain bin shelves at the local college. 4.0 out of 5 stars – MY REVIEW: I am a gardener. I’d LOVE to have acres to garden, but I don’t. I have a small yard. This guy gets a big giant fixer upper house and eventually puts in a garden. And we hear about him tending it. Here are my only problems….
He pays for some lady to design the garden. WHY? Build raised beds. Done. To me, a serious gardener would this on their own. Granted, he DOES do a lot on his own, but throughout the book it seems like he wants someone else to do the hard bit of starting things for him. And for some reason that irks me! Part of being a gardener is doing the hard part, too!
In the end, I did enjoy the book, but I often found myself saying “you’re calling someone else and you call yourself a real gardener?!”. I mean really – he hires someone to cut his grass!
If you read any of these, I’d love to hear your opinions!