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American Grown by Michelle Obama, 2012

Reviewed by: Rebecca Alexander on 2012-06-13

bookFirst Lady Michelle Obama's new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America (Crown Publishers, 2012) has much to say about gardening as a learning process. A novice gardener, she doesn't hesitate to admit that not all of the Kitchen Garden efforts succeeded on the first try: there were raised berms that succumbed to foot traffic and were replaced with untreated wooden boxes, troubles with cutworms, and trials and tribulations with pumpkins. But her motivation to create a food garden on the South Lawn with the participation of numerous horticulturists, chefs, and schoolchildren, has resulted in a beautiful, productive example for every aspiring urban farmer (even someone without a staff of dozens or a large growing space!).

For readers who want to cultivate a closer relationship to the source of the food we eat (either by growing our own or by supporting small farms), this book is a good starting point. The book, which opens with a brief history of gardens at the White House, is arranged by season, and includes plans, descriptions of techniques and hands-on growing experiences, and recipes. Various experts on the garden staff contribute parts of the text. Seattle makes two appearances in the section on "How Our Gardens Grow Stronger Communities," with a page on Picardo Farm P-Patch, and a historic photo of Pike Place Market. The book ends with a resource list and bibliography.

If you are curious about the source of initial hesitation/opposition to the first White House beehive ever, here's a hint: the beehive is sited not far from the basketball court!

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Modern Homestead : Grow, Raise, Create by Renee Wilkinson, 2011

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson on 2013-01-01

bookDrawing a parallel with the homesteaders who settled the Oregon frontier, Portland author Renee Wilkinson recognizes that same spirit--and lack of knowledge and experience--in today's pioneers seeking self-sustaining, urban homes. Modern Homestead is not an A-Z encyclopedia of vegetable crops, but instead provides general rules-of-thumb to help you decide what you want, including a sizeable portion of the book that is given over to "Citified Creatures." Preserving your harvest is important, too, but the strongest message is don't work alone. Find some buddies to help you with your homestead, and you will collectively be more innovative and much more successful.

Excerpted from the Winter 2013 Arboretum Bulletin.

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April 11 2017 13:50:16