A few years ago, Manny Howard was enticed by New York Magazine to try growing food in his Brooklyn backyard and sustain himself on it for a month. At the time, Manny wasn’t really committed to exploring the meaning of “locavore” (the magazine’s tack); he loves wild challenges of just about any kind (hunting boar or bear, making a film in Afghanistan…) and New York Magazine knew they had their sucker. In trying to create “the farm”, Manny got SO deep into something he had no clue about that he almost lost his marriage (and a finger). He spent months preparing land that had not grown a thing in decades, nurturing seedlings under make-shift grow lights, rigging coops, building an irrigation system, learning to geld and kill chickens, trying to get rabbits to breed… learning on the job. Everything that could go wrong did, including a hurricane landing in Brooklyn – right on the farm. He lost 29 pounds.
In a recent interview in Elle Magazine, Manny described the biggest challenge:
“Well, I could break it down to most miserable, or most discouraging, or generated the most self-loathing. Those are probably the categories. I was so crazy and myopic. I was dedicated to finishing the project. I really became a lunatic. Fix what’s broken, heal what’s sick, feed what’s hungry-which was the real gift of the whole project: Apply work to a problem and the problem would be gone for, you know, seven hours. Nothing ever actually got fixed or healed.”