A couple of weeks ago, friend and Mother Earth News assistant editor Heidi Hunt made me aware of a new book: Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land by Kurt Timmermeister. Heidi's enthusiastic description of Growing a Farmer motivated me to request a review copy – I read the book in the course of three sessions and it almost made me late to work twice.
In Growing a Farmer, successful twenty-something Seattle restaurateur Kurt Timmermeister chronicles his heartwarming and palpable transition from city apartment dweller to first-time home buyer to passionate food farmer on Vashon Island, just a 15 minute ferry ride from the big city. Timmermeister is about as naive as it gets when he decides he wants his first piece of real estate to be a farm, but he doesn’t let that stand in his way. In the end, it is that very naiveté that makes it possible for him to sell his café and figure out how to make 12 acres of fairly worn out and overgrown land produce sufficient food to keep the farm afloat, without a steady infusion of cash from any “real job” in town.
Timmermeister has a compelling way of leading us through his discoveries, his failures and successes, and he gives us a rare glimpse of what real food is all about and what it means to take full responsibility for the animals whose lives sustain us. Growing a Farmer’s message that “you can do it” comes through loud and clear and serves as powerful inspiration for anyone interested in moving to the country to grow good food or in getting the most out of the place they already call home. The book is an important read for dreamers, doers and even conventional truck, grain and livestock farmers. Timmermeister's voice is engaging and encompassing – you won’t find any preaching on these pages.
Growing a Farmer is most definitely not a how-to manual in the nitty gritty sense of the word, nor is it a cookbook or philosophical examination of the state of agriculture in our country. Rather it is a book that contains wisdom and example and that celebrates the fundamental goodness associated with providing the best possible nourishment through the fruits of your labor.
Timmermeister’s Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land is available through your favorite bookstores – get yourself a copy and settle in for an inspirational adventure.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.