Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"The Resilient Gardener" Review

"The Resilient Gardner - Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. Carol Deppe.

Wow, finally got a chance to set down and finish off my review copy with todays strong storm front moving through and theres a ton I could say about this book.

From the absolute novice gardener right down to the hardcore Survivalist/Restitutionalis/Get Ready For Shit To Hit The Fan true believers like me, this book hits many of the high points for need to know type gardening.

Within the pages of this beautiful book your going to find a little bit of everything from the why's we should garden to the hows of doing so without the convinience of running to the garden store down the road if things should get bad, along with a slew of easy to understand seed saving, breeding, and genetics information (even for those with no background) and an amazing amount of cullinary knowledge from a wonderfully exploratory home cook. All the while you will get an amazing glimpse at Carol's wonderful personality and her penchant for being prepared for anything, with good reason given her geographic location.

The information is concise as well as precise and immediately understandable as well as practical. Inside she gives us 33 Golden Gardening rules to get us started on the rough path to sustainability and from there moves into the deeper reasons that we not only should be in touch with our own food production but indeed may one day have to be. A hard truth for many to swallow that's for sure, our blog and others have proven that. This said, she doesn't tend to stick to controversial subjects, instead giving us clearly highlightable historical incidents which are immediately relatable to the crisis' that could be at hand at any moment as well as extremely powerful and plausable "what if's".

The true glimmer of her knowledge come through in the form of her cullinary understanding of her crops and their uses as well as her uniqe experience with Celiac disease and other dietary issues which might otherwise thwart our ability to be truly prepared should things ever get "that bad."

All along she peppers her wording with her strong belief (mine as well) that our communities will have to play a role as providers and merchants within themselves. Strengthening our ties as a community via trade and special skills developed individually but traded amongst the community at large in good and bad times. It's nice to see someone actually viewing the world much in the same way I myself do.

She spends a wonderful amount of time regarding poultry, potatoes, corn, beans, and squash and their ability to sustain us soley in the event of crisis or in the strugle to find sustainability, all the while making sure she highlights the hows and why's of what she is growing as well as the variety while also making a point to let us know that what works for her in her bio-region may not work for you and listing some alternatives. As well she updates us on her plant breeding projects, their virtures, and why she made the selections that she has as well as alternative selections which could have been made. The same is true of the poultry, she never once dismisses chickens or other poultry for her flock of laying ducks and instead gives advice which can inform our decision as well as the statistics regarding the behavior and laying ability of her flock and notes regarding her experiences.

The potato section mentions many of Tom Wagners varieties and Carol and her partner have spent many a day experimenting with many potatoes in many different uses.

I feel like having spoken to Carol in the past and after having read this book that some of us (I am guilty!) spend far to little time focusing on the taste and uses of our crops, this book has most certainly reinforced my gut feeling that the persual of cullinary delights and their mastery in the kitchen are aspects that I have too easily overlooked. At the end of each chapter regarding poultry, corn, squash, beans, and potatoes, Carol graciously shares with us a few dishes and ideas which should give us plenty of fodder for persuing our own homegrown dishes with as much zest as she has for cooking as well as gardening, seed saving, plant breeding, food storage, animal husbandry, survivalism and life in general.

Ther are wonderful reccomendations for garden tools which are easy on the back, watering, soil fertility and composting, spacing, seeding, raised bed gardening and so much more.

If self sustainability is something you hope to approach with any real rational approach, trust me there is no need to reinvent the wheel when someone like Carol can provide you at least with a rough roadmap which will lead you in the right general direction, trust me I know. You will learn more here than from any extension office in the United States in terms of value, persistance, beauty, hope, and realism and the words never come off the page as contrived or lacking in a concrete foundation.

This is the primer for the gardener and farmers of the 21'st century. Those who will likely live to see the day when supermarket shelves are empty or non existent.

Even if your set in your ways and tend to avoid gardening books this is one which should be sought out, if for no other reason that to know that out there on that beautiful west coast there is someone sharing your pain and successes, a likemind with which many of us can relate; preparing and grooming herself, her seeds, her community, for what could/likely will happen. More than that though, she is sharing, secrets that most of us lost more than a 100 years previous, that my friends is sacred knowledge (gnosis) of the highest order, the type which is truly life giving.

We hope to interview Carol in the near future, until then, check the book out as soon as you get a chance. You can order it here:

Also be sure to keep your eyes open for Carols new seed resource Fertile Valley Seeds coming soon!


linda said...

Wow Alan, great review. You have me sold. I love that she covers the culinary is next in my heart only to gardening.

Bishops Homegrown said...

Glad you enjoyed Linda, definitely give it a read when you get a chance.

linda said...

You might like to read an interview with Carol Deppe over here.
Hope you don't mind the link in your posts.

Mr. H. said...

After reading your review I purchased this book and am now about half way through and enjoying every page. A perfect gardening book for this day and age. I have her plant breeding book but had no idea she had just written this one too until I saw this post. Thanks for the great recommendation.:)