Book Review: Fresh Food From Small Places

Some people say we should grow more of our own food because the food system as we know it is on the verge of collapse. Other say we should do it as a way to enhance our lives and save the planet. And then there are those who argue that food tastes better when it spends the shortest time between the garden and the stove.

Either way, while growing your own food may seem like a good idea, it is also impractical for those of us who live in urban environments. Between city ordinances and a lack of space, we often don't have much to work with. But R. J. Ruppenthal is here to challenge that with his inspiring new book Fresh Food from Small Places: The Square-Inch Gardner's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting.

Mr. Ruppenthal is a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and inspiring champion of growing your own food in what may seem like challenging places. Beginning with the obvious solutions like vegetables in containers, he also suggests vertical gardening, trying out fruits and berries, and even raising chickens and honeybees.

Fresh Food from Small Spaces instructs us on how to manage compost, 'partner' with worms, cultivate mushrooms and make yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and sprouted grains. This book is packed with information on how to start up a windowsill or terrace garden, or to turn that narrow strip of soil between buildings into a mini-farm. Even if your only goal is to pick a few ripe, homegrown vegetables every now and then, then this book is worth picking up.

If you live in the Bay Area, you can hear Mr. Ruppenthal speak at the Ferry Farmer's Market on Wednesday March 3 at 6:30 pm. Admission is free. For more information visit the Chelsea Green website.

Related: Book Review: Grub: Ideas for An Urban Organic Kitchen

(Image: Chelsea Green)

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.