Two local authors recently spoke about their books at the Winters Community Library. I was excited to make the short drive to Winters for several reasons. I’ve heard about the fairly new Winters library building several times from Davis resident and West Yolo Regional Librarian Sara Ferguson. I was curious to see what it looked like as it is located on the high school campus in an innovative joint use system that allows the library to be open more hours than it could as either a high school library or public library would be on its own. The library did not disappoint, being a bright and cheerful space thoughtfully laid out to best serve its clients. It is decorated with art installations that wonderfully suit the space and locale. I loved the chance to actually see the library first hand.
But the reason I was finally motivated to make the long delayed trip was the chance to hear local authors Kami McBride and Spring Warren speak about their new books. Next time I will share some knowledge from McBride’s book The Herbal Kitchen, a wealth of information on common and not-so-common herbs and their common and not-so-common uses. You might be surprised, as I was, by things you didn’t know you knew!
Warren’s book, The Quarter Acre Farm, How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year, documents the birth and evolution of her farm which flourishes solely in her Davis yard. The garden publishing world has quite a few books written by author/gardeners who took out most or all of their traditional landscaping and replaced it with food crops. However, Warren is such a entertaining writer and The Quarter Acre Farm is such a pleasure to read, that no matter how much you may have already read or how much you know about home farming you will totally enjoy your visit to her world.
This is not as much a how-to book as it is an honest, often hilarious, sometimes gross look at how one woman kept to her goal of producing and eating 75% of her diet for one year from her yard. Her family joined her for most of that year and I especially enjoyed the tales of their gradual conversion to the farm project. Recipes for some favorite dishes are included but I will not be sampling at least one of them any time soon. I am an excellent snail hunter and have, more than once, captured over 300 snails on a spring morning in my own small farmland. I will not, however, ever go through what Warren does when she invites friends over for a party that includes escargot of an extremely local variety. It is an story (experience? ordeal?) not to be missed!
Warren shares ideas on how to move toward growing more of your own food but this book succeeds most as a personal story. Being in the middle of another book, I did not mean to read the whole thing immediately. But once I started I found I couldn’t stop, with the other book ending up on the back burner for a couple of days. Davis readers will have an extra bit of fun in recognizing familiar places and even people, something I really enjoy.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a farmer, even on a small scale, The Quarter Acre Farm is an excellent beginning place for getting some answers. If you just enjoy good writing, a great story and knowing what not to give as Christmas presents (hint: page 203) you can satisfy that objective, too, and maybe at the same time get inspired to grow at least some percentage of your own food on your own farm.