In the bookshed: Farm Together Now


Farm Together Now: A Portrait of People, Places and Ideas for a New Food Movement
Chronicle Books 2010-11
Amy Franceschini, Daniel Tucker, Anne Hamersky

This book came in the mail right before Christmas – thanks to local distributor Raincoast Press – and although it technically is copyrighted 2011, was definitely the most inspiring food/garden book I read in 2010. Farm Together Now is a collection of interviews and photographs across the spectrum of the new farming movement in North America. From the conventional dairy farmers pushing for greater organic standards, to the urban vacant-lot-turned-market-farm – each subject in this book is as interesting as the last, with a lot of interest added by the beautiful photography that graces the pages.

The folks who put together this book obviously put a lot of thought into the diversity of approaches in sustainable food and farming – breaking this book into mini-sections such as: “Alongside Conventional Farmers”, “In Intentional Community”, “Up and Out of Poverty”, and “Market/CSA Farms”. My two favourite interviews were found in the last section – “The Experimenters” – highlighting Participation Park in Maryland and Anarchy Apiaries in New York with a close follow-up from Mountain Gardens in North Carolina. If you follow-up on just those three links you can see how different they are from each other, which is true for all the participants featured in Farm Together Now. And yet, all so inspiring in terms of fostering plant diversity, neighbourhood rebirth, community health, small-scale local economies, greater access to local food choices and new ways of viewing our world and how we live in it. This is a great snapshot of many of the currents in the movement around local food today (struggles and successes included) – and I came away with lots of micro-ideas to try in my own community involvement as things unfold around our little Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood for 2011.

The only complaint I have is the US-focus, which isn’t a fault of the book organizers – but it makes me yearn for a similar project in Canada where there are also many inspiring garden and farm communities in much less hospitable climactic regions. I would be curious to compare the differences in approach and projects given the geographic, population and weather differences between our two countries – though I need look no further than my own neighbourhood for inspiring stories of communities working together for local food.

Farm Together Now is an exciting, inspiring and visually appealing book for the food collection on the shelf. I’m really pleased to add it to the bookshed library which is growing with all sorts of gardeny, foodie, earthy boks these days!

Farm Together Now book crew and blog can be found at: http://farmtogethernow.org

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