Today, farming memoirs abound. We’ve featured many books on how a farmer was “grown,” such as The Dirty Life, Made From Scratch, Farm City and Goat Song. Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land (2011) isn’t necessarily the most unique tale. But it is a great account of one modern farmer’s story, and above all else it is a good read.
Kurt Timmermeister is a restaurant owner turned full-time farmer on Seattle’s Vashon Island. The book is organized by aspects of the farm–vegetables, dairy, pigs, etc. Each chapter contains personal experiences as well as reflections, recipes, techniques and more. Today the farm stays afloat by selling artisan cheese and providing Sunday dinners at the farm.
Despite having no writing background, Timmermeister’s book is cohesive and interesting. Indeed there are random, seemingly out of place bits strewn around, but to me that only gave him and his farm a sense of accessibility. I could easily picture myself on his farm churning butter or pressing cider. In fact, the entire tale made me think that I too could become a farmer like him.
In the end, despite many other similar books, Growing a Farmer is a worthy read. Timmermeister portrays his deep respect for the land and desire to return to a simpler time (although he still uses an iPod on particularly monotonous farm tasks). A renewed interest in urban farming has yielded many similar stories, which is wonderful for the health of people and land. I suspect Timmermeister might even convince a few others to “grow” themselves into farmers.