I recently wrote an article about books that inspire the new breed of farmers for Civil Eats, and it ended up inspiring me. I loved what everybody contributed. Here are some of the outtakes, in no particular order:
Jacque Smith, Green Dirt Farm — “I picked up the Egg and I a few years ago right when we were elbows deep in our first few years of farming. MacDonald’s humorous description of farming life really resonated with me at that time. Her description of her challenges, feeling completely unprepared and overwhelmed, I felt very similar during the beginning of Green Dirt Farm. Lastly, I became familiar with Alice Waters years before I decided I wanted to become a farmer. Her cookbooks helped shaped my ideas behind healthy, regional food, especially The Art of Simple Food. I think learning how to cook using regional, grass-fed food brought me closer to the ideas of becoming a farmer and being able to grow the types of food that I would be proud to serve to my friends and family.”
Marisa Alcorta, Cloverleaf Farm — “By far the most useful publication that I read obsessively is Growing For Market. This I could not live without.”
Alexis Koefoed, Soul Food Farm — “Ines of my soul [by Isabel Allende] Is about a remarkable true life woman who travelled from peru to chile during the time of the conquistadors and the way Isabelle Allende writes about her, she’s just an inspiring woman who broke conventions and rules and had the adventure of a lifetime. I loved that book. I read it the year it came out. That same year Isabelle Allende came out to vacaville and gave a talk and she was such a fantastic speaker. There isn’t a book I ever read that inspried me to be a farmer because that’s an idea that just came to me in my late 30s when i saw this land I bought and it was really the land that inspired me to be a farmer.
Brenton Johnson, Johnson’s Backyard Garden — “As I grew in scale a little bit..out of the backyard, I found Sustainable Vegetable farming from Start-up to Harvest by Vern Grubinger. This book (the Green Book) is amazing and is really important to me. It currently has found a home in my truck. Vern’s book and the Elliot Coleman book I used to give to interns they are so important to me. The Green Book is geared toward organic farmers that are farming commercially but still very small scale like 10 to 30 acres in production. Tons of good info and grower profiles and crop budgets. When I began farming as a business I have come to appreciate this book more and more. All three of these books take a long time to get the value and knowledge extracted out of them fully. Also Vern Grubinger is really nice and helpful. I have called him up before and he has sent me farming videos and been really helpful.”
Joe Reynolds, Gaia Gardens — “Full Moon Feast [by Jessica Prentice] is a cookbook that breaks food down by moon cycles from cultures all over the world. For us, it helped us recognize how special the natural time-keepers, such as seasons, rain-cycles, and moon-cycles, define place and practice. … The Foxfire Book, edited by Eliot Wigginton
This series of books recognizes the true spirit of DIY culture through documenting rural knowledge around developing a relationship with Nature and respecting scale and impact.
… Woody Tasch, Slow Money. I fought it for a long time, but farming is truly a business with success that can be measured in many capacities. I really appreciate how Tasch equates economy and finance to soil and metabolism.”