The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

It's a Long Road to a Tomato

It's a long road to a tomatoIt's a Long Road to a Tomato, by Keith Stewart, wasn't quite what I expected.  For some reason, I figured the book was one of those city-guy-goes-to-the-country-and-gets-a-chicken books (which I often enjoy), and in some ways that is the gist of the story.  Stewart and his wife did move out of New York City to start an farm...but the book sums up twenty years of experience, and the author did far more than keep a chicken. 

Stewart developed a 12-acre organic-vegetable farm, run by himself with the seasonal help of six interns per year (who require more management than Hispanic laborers would have, but who he pays less).  Not counting large investments (like tractors, of which Stewart owns three), his annual expenses come to just shy of $150,000, which should give you an idea of the scale of his operation.  He grows all of the usual high-end vegetables and herbs, with garlic being one of his favorites, and he trucks the produce into the big city to sell in a Manhattan farmer's market every week.

While I heartily recommend It's a Long Road to a Tomato for anyone considering beginning their own market garden, the book has a wider appeal.  If you're new to the topic, you'll probably learn a lot about problems with our current agricultural system, running the gamut from encroaching development to government regulations.  And even if you're not interested in agricultural policy or starting your own organic farm, you'll probably enjoy the chapters in which Stewart writes about life on the farm, while you'll definitely love his wife's woodcuts.

In the end, I didn't learn anything new from It's a Long Road to a Tomato, but I enjoyed the read.  Chances are you'll feel the same.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I would suggest the new book that was just released, Chickens in the Road by Suzanne McMinn. Very enjoyable
Comment by Laurie Hamar Sun Nov 10 18:43:37 2013

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