In Seattle’s “…earliest days cows roamed the streets freely; their right to graze on anyone’s front lawn was protected by law, a law modeled on rural rights granting cattle access to public range land. As late as 1900…backyard cows still produced a third of Seattle’s milk…As rail lines were completed…it became possible for suburban dairies to replace the backyard cow.” Thus, in the city, people lost sight of the utilitarian value of the city living cow which soon became labeled a nuisance.” Seattle began excluding cows from its downtown core, and the cow free zone crept slowly outward from there.”
Food production was banished from the city. Suburbs were built with covenants that forbade chickens and front yard veggie gardens. Our food system became industrialized and controlled by the same people who control the fuel system and the medical system. Is it possible that this trend is reversing; that more people are inclined to take charge of what they eat? The Urban Farm Handbook may be evidence of such a trend.
There are lots of gardening books but only a few that I’d be willing to recommend: Steve Solomon’s books, Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener and this new one—The Urban Farm Handbook. It’s a bit more than a book about gardening though the author’s provide lots of information on how to make food in a small space. More precisely, The Urban Farm Handbook is a book about food. It’s clear, concise, practical and covers lots of territory. The authors teach you how to run an urban farm operation. That is, how to make a small space extremely productive. The subtitle is “City Slicker Resources for Growing, Raising, Sourcing, Trading, and Preparing What You Eat”. Their approach is a bit different and the book is very readable with much good information all specific to our region.
There are chapters on grains, chickens, dairying with goats, small meat animals, locavoring (to coin a new word), preserving food, building food communities and various aspects of gardening, interspersed with recipes and profiles of people who leaders in alternative food systems. And, it’s all in the context of getting the job done on small city lots.
The authors have done what they are describing and their personal stories and experiences make the book accessible on an emotional level. You will marvel at what each of them has accomplished.
Gardening in small spaces is a particular problem which all gardeners face to one extent or the other. Even large plots of rural land often only provide a small area suitable for gardening and raising animals. The Urban Farm Handbook is full of useful and stimulating ideas. WCLS has a copy.