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June 07, 2014

Book Review - Backyard Farming by Terry Bridge

One of the many books catering to the desire, or rather the necessity, of people living more sustainably and producing their own fruit and veg rather than consuming factory farm produce. It provides a solid overview but ends there. The first line plainly states "This is not a book about self sufficiency, where no outside help is required... instead, this is a guide to using to the optimum what available land you have, however small it may be..." And there we discover a problem. The examples are little more than real estate porn. Large farmhouses set in lush English pastureland, blossoming greenhouses the size of the average studio apartment, veggie patches that could feed a small economically struggling country, and livestock to rival a zoo. The authors conception of a backyard is generous with real estate and resources but limited with imagination. Most of us do not have sufficient space or time to tend such extravagant "backyard" farms, even if we dream to do so. Sustainability relies not on large parcels of land but clever uses of small spaces. Considering the plethora of titles within the genre you would hope for more tailored gardening ideas. One of particular relevance for those with limited space is Josh Byrne's Small Space Organics. Alternately, if you are interested in preserves or farm craft like bee culture there are titles that tailor more specifically to those activities as well. Bridge's Backyard Farming may get full marks for being inspirational with its beautiful images and introduction to viable self sufficiency techniques, but its emphasis on farming and its lack of imagination with the backyard is problematic. Andreas

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