March Good Food Book Club

The Urban Farmer: A handbook to overhaul the system…in our own backyards

Among the key consequences to the United States’ love affair with cars and fossil fuels over the last century are… yards. Millions upon millions of lawns that stretch from sea to shining sea. Suburban growth, sprawl, and a fierce penchant for green, manicured postage stamps have led to the ironic fact that lawns are now the single largest crop in America…by three times over any other crop.

That’s 40 million acres of arable land in irrigated grass. Or 63,000 square miles of yard that, if stitched together, would be about the size of Texas. We talk about food waste in our current distribution system, a valid and crucial point. But only recently have Americans begun to recognize the vast potential of turning lawns into food.

It’s true that at one time Victory Gardens sprang up around America to ensure stronger food security during the World Wars, but very quickly—in less than a generation—those thriving hubs of local nutritional bounty went the way of the horse and carriage. Yet Victory Gardens set a precedent; and some folks still recall—or yearn for—their resurgence. Even more significant, Victory Gardens barely scratch the surface of what’s possible for long-term, culturally cherished, local food security. Consider Russia’s 1,000-year history of so-called Dacha Gardening, which “accounts for about three percent of the arable land used in agriculture, but grows an astounding 50 percent by value of the food eaten by Russians.”

The stage is set. We live in a time when a radically new system of American food culture is upon us. And that’s where this month’s exciting new book comes in. The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land by Curtis Stone breaks new ground in codifying what’s possible in the United States when it comes to urban farming. Systemic, widespread urban farming is among the most potent “win-win” strategies to overhaul the broken food system we are leaving behind. In this case, “win-win” refers to growing healthy local food, creating strong community resilience and security (while moving quickly away from fossil fuels), and making a good living…and even a great profit.

Please join us to discuss Curtis Stone’s The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land (New Society Publishers, 2015) on Sunday, March 27, from 6 -7:30 p.m. in the Co-op Cafe. Remember to email bookclub@moscowfood.coop to receive email reminders about the Good Food Book Club. The Urban Farmer is available through your local library. If you are interested in buying the book, check out the area’s local used bookstores or visit BookPeople of Moscow, where Book Club members receive a discount. For more information about the Good Food Book Club, check out the Outreach section of the Co-op website at www.moscowfood.coop/programs.

From the synopsis:

“The Urban Farmer is a comprehensive, hands-on, practical manual to help you learn the techniques and business strategies you need to make a good living growing high-yield, high-value crops right in your own backyard (or someone else's). Major benefits include: Low capital investment and overhead costs. Reduced need for expensive infrastructure. Easy access to market. Growing food in the city means that fresh crops may travel only a few blocks from field to table, making this innovative approach the next logical step in the local food movement. Based on a scalable, easily reproduced business model, The Urban Farmer is your complete guide to minimizing risk and maximizing profit by using intensive production in small leased or borrowed spaces.”