Chris Ramirez/New York Times
Keith Stewart is a writer despite himself. Even with the massive responsibilities and demands of his organic farm with it’s hundred or so varieties of produce, he has written regularly and wonderfully about the inside of farming and living a rural life, from numerous magazine articles to It’s a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life.
A couple of years ago, Keith embarked on summing-up the essentials he’d learned over decades of farming, having started from-scratch as an escapee from the city. It was a massive undertaking on top of the ever-changing, improvisational, exhausting, gratifying realities of farming. Storey’s Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables & Herbs for Market is the 500+ page result, a curiously compelling read for anyone with farm fantasies (realistic or not).
Reading Keith’s book, I find myself an avid armchair farmer, as much from happily learning about Seed Germination and Potable Water Tests as by the more general life principles scattered throughout the book (the hallmark of all of Keith’s writing), like Surprise, Excesses of Youth, Competing Forces and Looking After Number One. The honest, methodical thinking behind Twenty Points to Ponder before becoming a farmer, which include Deal Makers and Deal Breakers, could be applied to just about any business. I especially like Question Marks, which make for illuminating self-analysis. Here are a few: read more…