Not of my own choosing, mind you. Kevin has been plying me with stealth gifts from the library.
He’ll hear a radio interview or read a review and as quickly as the interlibrary loan system can deliver it, a new tome will arrive. “You should read this,” he’ll say. “And then tell me about it.”
(This is my husband’s standard operating procedure. If I read the highlights aloud and synthesize the message, it frees him up to read more rewarding works by Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.)
First to arrive was “The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century” by Alex Prud’homme. It’s a fascinating treatise on our most valued resource — one that’s made me treasure all the more our abundance of fresh, clean water.
Then came “Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way: 18th-Century Methods for Today’s Organic Gardeners” by Wesley Greene. More of a take-notes reference guide, it’s taught me interesting techniques for extending the growing season. I particularly appreciated a frost-protection apparatus that gets reused as a cucumber trellis.
But the latest, “The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities” by Will Allen, I tore through in two days. (It was too hot to work outside.)
Since 1993, Allen has been transforming a three-acre inner city plot in Milwaukee into the hub of an urban agricultural advocacy center that champions a return to growing our own food — no matter who we are and where we live. The neglected florist nursery he purchased nearly 20 years ago is now home to bio-energy heated greenhouses that produce greens, vegetables and sprouts year round, as well as a commercial composting operation and an apiary. The urban farm also raises fish, worms, chicken, turkeys, ducks and goats.
Allen’s Growing Power complex supplies all this bounty to its own store, area farm markets, restaurants and a modified CSA program — all while offering youth internships and adult workshops on a wide variety of topics, from composting to cooking.
In recent years, Allen has gained national recognition for his work with youth and marginalized communities.
His is an inspirational story, but what I enjoyed most were the lessons he gains and imparts through growing food. Beyond the obvious health benefits, the process fosters patience, perseverance and a “can-do” attitude — characteristics he considers invaluable for all aspects of life.
Definitely food for thought.