In it, renowned author (and Kentucky native) Barbara Kingsolver documents her family's move from the desert of Arizona to her husband's old family homestead in Virginia where they had spent many summers. Drawing from their heritage, experience, and knowledge of biology, nutrition, and farming, they endeavor to live for one year off of food only of a local origin and what they grow or raise themselves. Although the book is mainly from Barbara's point of view, there are excerpts from her biologist/professor husband and college-age daughter. Some of the funniest and most poignant stories are of the experiences she shares raising the garden and poultry with her youngest daughter, Lily, who starts her own egg business at age 9.
The book is filled with intriguing tidbits about our nation's sick food supply chain, horrible eating habits, need for more diversity in the plants we're raising, and dozens of convincing reasons to eat more local food and raise your own if you can. There are also tons of great recipes, which can be accessed at the book's website. In fact, there are oodles of great resources which I just discovered at the website!
So, this book has me completely energized to have our biggest and best garden ever this year. We have had nice gardens in the past (especially pre-children, when we first moved to the farm and I even sold at the Farmer's Market). But, motivation often seems to dwindle when the weeds hit and the last two summers of drought have presented more challenges than usual. Coming to my aid are the two new women at our farm, Jenny (our energetic alpaca farm manager) and Danna (a smart, young biologist living in our cabin who helps part-time). Ironically, they have both read the book and we've decided that we'll all pitch in and have the garden together.
Determined to raise many heirloom varieties of vegetables, we turned to Local Harvest, a site that offers all kinds of resources for purchasing just about anything that can be raised or made locally. I originally found the site when I was searching out beeswax for sealing the surface of my paintings. The seeds I purchased were primarily from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Happy Cat Organics- Southern Exposure shipped really quickly, but I'm still awaiting the seeds from Happy Cat Organics. I heard on NPR that seed sales are up by 30% this year, so don't wait if you want a garden. Even container gardening for apartment dwellers can be a major benefit!Pin It Now!
I honestly can't recommend this book enough, and besides learning so much from it I truly enjoyed Kingsolver's beautiful writing and plan to read some of her fiction books soon. Times are so uncertain right now, and I am finding myself grasping for some control of our family's destiny in ways that are fulfilling, healthy, and sustainable.
Although I am not ready to become a locavore, we are going to make a concerted effort to do more local eating and buying, just as I am trying to recycle more, use cloth bags for grocery shopping, and other small things that make a difference. We are so very blessed with good health and the soil and resources that are literally right at our feet, and we look forward to hard, honest work and a wonderful harvest this year.
So, have you read the book? Has it motivated you to have a garden or make other changes? What is your favorite thing to raise? (I know, that's like asking who is your favorite child?). I'd love to hear from you!