TWW’s Book Review: Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) by Angela England

It is with great pleasure that I present my first book review for 2013. I am so excited to review, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) by Angela England, as I have been working on my own little backyard farm, well…actually it is more like a front and backyard farm because I live in a condo and have even less than one acre to work with!

In her book, Angela England has provided a very comprehensive outline on sustainable living. From the initial chapter discussing “The Backyard Farm Adventure” to the final chapter outlining “Other Ways to Use Your Harvest” I don’t think I have ever read a more detailed book on this topic.

Each chapter outlines, step-by-step, how to begin the process. Ms. England has taken all the guesswork out of figuring out how to create our “Backyard Farm”, which is what I really like the most about this book. We are then free to take the parts that we want and use them however they work for us. So in my case, while I may not be able to have any animals, I can grow certain foods and herbs to benefit my family. In fact, I’ve already been doing this on a very small scale, and for the last several years have enjoyed the benefits of fresh tomatoes that taste so much better than store bought. Now that I have read this book, I have plans to expand. Thank goodness my neighbors are all on board as they have given me permission to use their front yards!

For those that have more land than I do, you will surely enjoy the illustrated layouts provided for a quarter-acre, half-acre and full-acre lots. The author asks us to “consider the illustrations as wish-lists for someday”. In my mind this means use these ideas as a springboard to create our own dream farm, no matter how big or small. The goal is to have a “P.L.A.N.”:

Precise – make the plans precise. Think about how many different crops to plant, and how much room you’ll need. Do you plan on having just a garden or will you add livestock? Perhaps a bit of both? Precision is the key to plans.

Lasting – think of this adventure as a timeline. Nothing ever happens immediately, so realize that this is going to take a schedule that needs to be adhered to and plan accordingly. For example, in January, I will layout my garden and decide what I want to plant. In February I will purchase the seeds I need to grow my crops. In March, I will…you get the idea. Decide what needs to happen each week and month and then stick to the schedule. Large scale farmers have been doing this for years. It’s no different for this scale.

Arrival – means heading in a particular direction towards those goals. What are you going to do to make this happen? How will you adapt when something doesn’t work?

Natural – doing what works for you. Just because what works for Angela doesn’t mean it is going to work for Susan and vice versa. It has to make sense for you; the plan needs to work for you. Write out the plan and start working on what’s important now.

The book also provides advice on how to plan plan the garden space and maximize it to its fullest potential; suggests keeping a journal and goes into great detail on the tools and skills needed for the backyard farmer. Also, for those that aren’t as experienced with gardening, Angela provides the reader with a gentle reminder that’s its not just about sticking the plant in the ground and letting it do it’s thing (i.e. you have to amend the soil!) Novices will also appreciate the chapters on vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries as well as animals for a Backyard Farm.

Don’t let the details of this book overwhelm you. In fact, take a moment to really read Part 4, “Enjoying the Bounty”, and Part 5 “Crafting from the Backyard Farm” because it really gives the reader a great guide as to what to do with the harvest from that garden we’ve spent so much time and energy on. Remember that Ms. England has provided us with the tools to get started. Now we have to use them and make it happen. Take the parts that work for you and save the rest for when you’re able to use them. And above all, share this book with everyone you know.

I found this book really helped to renew my enthusiasm for gardening and I can’t wait to get started! Rating:

Wishing you moments of great reading!

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Liked anything you see here? Then contact me, Susan Dusterhoft at todaysworkingwoman@hotmail.com. I am always looking for more books/products to review. I can also provide assistance with blog writing!