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My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm

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My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For seven months, Manny Howard — a lifelong urbanite — woke up every morning and ventured into his eight-hundred-square-foot backyard to maintain the first farm in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in generations. His goal was simple: to subsist on what he could produce on this farm, and only this farm, for at least a month. The project came at a time in Manny's life when he most needed it — even if his family, and especially his wife, seemingly did not. But a farmer's life, he discovered — after a string of catastrophes, including a tornado, countless animal deaths (natural, accidental, and inflicted), and even a severed finger — is not an easy one. And it can be just as hard on those he shares it with.

Manny's James Beard Foundation Award-winning New York magazine cover story — the impetus for this project — began as an assessment of the locavore movement. We now think more about what we eat than ever before, buying organic for our health and local for the environment, often making those decisions into political statements in the process. My Empire of Dirt is a ground-level examination — trenchant, touching, and outrageous — of the cultural reflex to control one of the most elemental aspects of our lives: feeding ourselves.

Unlike most foodies with a farm fetish, Manny didn't put on overalls with much of a philosophy in mind, save a healthy dose of skepticism about some of the more doctrinaire tendencies of locavores. He did not set out to grow all of his own food because he thought it was the right thing to do or because he thought the rest of us should do the same. Rather, he did it because he was just crazy enough to want to find out how hard it would actually be to take on a challenge based on a radical interpretation of a trendy (if well-meaning) idea and see if he could rise to the occasion.

A chronicle of the experiment that took slow-food to the extreme, My Empire of Dirt tells the story of one man's struggle against environmental, familial, and agricultural chaos, and in the process asks us to consider what it really takes (and what it really means) to produce our own food. It's one thing to know the farmer, it turns out — it's another thing entirely to be the farmer. For most of us, farming is about food. For the farmer, and his family, it's about work.

Review:

"An occasionally snarky, consistently engaging experiment in environmental science." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Manny Howard's wonderful book is much more than a breezy romp across the line that divides urban from rural life. Yes, it crackles with intelligence and good humor, sparkles with hilarious anecdotes, and is studded with entertaining factoids about the agrarian life that Howard decided, so improbably, to adopt....But at its core this book belongs to a great American tradition that goes back to Thoreau: a lone man with big ideas decides to confront Nature on his own." Daniel Mendelsohn, author of The Lost

Synopsis:

Howard, a New York City food writer, pens this entertaining and informative account of his attempt to live off the food he grows in his backyard in Brooklyn.

Synopsis:

For seven months, Manny Howard—a lifelong urbanite—woke up every morning and ventured into his eight-hundred-square-foot backyard to maintain the first farm in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in generations. His goal was simple: to subsist on what he could produce on this farm, and only this farm, for at least a month. The project came at a time in Manny’s life when he most needed it—even if his family, and especially his wife, seemingly did not. But a farmer’s life, he discovered—after a string of catastrophes, including a tornado, countless animal deaths (natural, accidental, and inflicted), and even a severed finger—is not an easy one. And it can be just as hard on those he shares it with.

Manny’s James Beard Foundation Award-winning New York magazine cover story—the impetus for this project—began as an assessment of the locavore movement. We now think more about what we eat than ever before, buying organic for our health and local for the environment, often making those decisions into political statements in the process. My Empire of Dirt is a ground-level examination—trenchant, touching, and outrageous—of the cultural reflex to control one of the most elemental aspects of our lives: feeding ourselves.

Unlike most foodies with a farm fetish, Manny didn’t put on overalls with much of a philosophy in mind, save a healthy dose of skepticism about some of the more doctrinaire tendencies of locavores. He did not set out to grow all of his own food because he thought it was the right thing to do or because he thought the rest of us should do the same. Rather, he did it because he was just crazy enough to want to find out how hard it would actually be to take on a challenge based on a radical interpretation of a trendy (if well-meaning) idea and see if he could rise to the occasion.

A chronicle of the experiment that took slow-food to the extreme, My Empire of Dirt tells the story of one man’s struggle against environmental, familial, and agricultural chaos, and in the process asks us to consider what it really takes (and what it really means) to produce our own food. It’s one thing to know the farmer, it turns out—it’s another thing entirely to be the farmer. For most of us, farming is about food. For the farmer, and his family, it’s about work.

About the Author

Manny Howard is a veteran of the magazine world, having written and/or edited for New York, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Esquire, Harper's, Rolling Stone, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Details, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Us Weekly, National Geographic, and Travel & Leisure, among many others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two children, and a dwindling number of farm animals.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781416585169
Author:
Howard, Manny
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Urban
Subject:
Farm life - New York (State) - New York
Subject:
Urban agriculture - New York (State) -
Subject:
Agriculture - General
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20100431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 8-pg inserts
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 14.035 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Home and Garden » Gardening » General
Home and Garden » Gardening » Writing
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General

My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9781416585169 Reviews:
"Review" by , "An occasionally snarky, consistently engaging experiment in environmental science."
"Review" by , "Manny Howard's wonderful book is much more than a breezy romp across the line that divides urban from rural life. Yes, it crackles with intelligence and good humor, sparkles with hilarious anecdotes, and is studded with entertaining factoids about the agrarian life that Howard decided, so improbably, to adopt....But at its core this book belongs to a great American tradition that goes back to Thoreau: a lone man with big ideas decides to confront Nature on his own."
"Synopsis" by , Howard, a New York City food writer, pens this entertaining and informative account of his attempt to live off the food he grows in his backyard in Brooklyn.
"Synopsis" by , For seven months, Manny Howard—a lifelong urbanite—woke up every morning and ventured into his eight-hundred-square-foot backyard to maintain the first farm in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in generations. His goal was simple: to subsist on what he could produce on this farm, and only this farm, for at least a month. The project came at a time in Manny’s life when he most needed it—even if his family, and especially his wife, seemingly did not. But a farmer’s life, he discovered—after a string of catastrophes, including a tornado, countless animal deaths (natural, accidental, and inflicted), and even a severed finger—is not an easy one. And it can be just as hard on those he shares it with.

Manny’s James Beard Foundation Award-winning New York magazine cover story—the impetus for this project—began as an assessment of the locavore movement. We now think more about what we eat than ever before, buying organic for our health and local for the environment, often making those decisions into political statements in the process. My Empire of Dirt is a ground-level examination—trenchant, touching, and outrageous—of the cultural reflex to control one of the most elemental aspects of our lives: feeding ourselves.

Unlike most foodies with a farm fetish, Manny didn’t put on overalls with much of a philosophy in mind, save a healthy dose of skepticism about some of the more doctrinaire tendencies of locavores. He did not set out to grow all of his own food because he thought it was the right thing to do or because he thought the rest of us should do the same. Rather, he did it because he was just crazy enough to want to find out how hard it would actually be to take on a challenge based on a radical interpretation of a trendy (if well-meaning) idea and see if he could rise to the occasion.

A chronicle of the experiment that took slow-food to the extreme, My Empire of Dirt tells the story of one man’s struggle against environmental, familial, and agricultural chaos, and in the process asks us to consider what it really takes (and what it really means) to produce our own food. It’s one thing to know the farmer, it turns out—it’s another thing entirely to be the farmer. For most of us, farming is about food. For the farmer, and his family, it’s about work.

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