If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know of my appreciation for the pretty lady in the picture above.
That’s Annette Cottrell of Sustainable Eats. She is someone I look up to and can happily call my friend. I’ve never met her in person (yet) but trust her like the back of my knee.
She is one of the first people in the blogosphere that I started to follow… closely. She was doing amazing things in her small Seattle lot and every new project fascinated me. She was growing and harvesting all of her families food (including berries and fruit trees) in her front yard. She was raising chickens, bees and helping milk urban goats. What I especially loved about this woman was her fearlessness. Goodness, she was helping slaughter and butcher whole hogs on family farms. (Yes Annette, you were my inspiration for wanting to do the same She cures, makes cheese, and ferments vegetables and fruits all with local goods and, of course, within season.
I think what really captivated me about Annette was not just all of the things that she does but her love of community. In Seattle, this woman is held in high regards. She embraces her community by teaching, setting up bulk buying clubs, meeting with people to organize urban farming coops, and passionately shares in communal canning events just like the good old days.
She has taught me so many things and many of my posts are inspired by her. So much so that we joined together to start the first homesteading blog hop, Simple Lives Thursday. Yes, that name came from her.
You can only imagine how excited I was when she first announced to some of us that she was writing a book, The Urban Farm Handbook. It’s written by Annette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols.
I could begin this post by saying how amazing and great this book is because, well… I love this lady. However, this handbook is genuinely an amazing resource to have on hand, I feel, regardless if you urban homestead or homestead on an acreage.
I’m going to embed a link to allow you to see the first 50 pages of her book, The Urban Farm Handbook.
Typical urban homesteading handbooks go into how to start your garden, make raised beds, raise chickens etc…
This book, however, goes into so much more.
She writes in a fashion that is easy for anyone to see how simple it can be to begin to make changes in their eating habits step by step. First and foremost by appreciating how things grow within season and honoring how animals are raised and culled in a sustainable fashion.
The Urban Farm Handbook
The Urban Farm Handbook is written in season to allow you to see how one eats and what to focus on during which part of the year. Some of my favorite parts of the book are highlighted below.
- The book’s first chapter is all about grains and the importance of a grain mill. She also includes many recipes! (For the month of March my theme for this blog is centered around this same concept
- Guide to chicken keeping and a great section on the deep litter method. Something I’d like to dive into this year.
- Vermiculture. Red worms in the kitchen = compost for the garden and feed for the chickens. Yup, this is on my list for this month.
- Getting started with dairy goats and cheesemaking.
- Gardening and all the different techniques for getting started.
- A rich section on compost, biochar and fertilizer!
- Seeding information.
- A good section to think about. Buying local versus Buying Organic. (That’s a good post in the making, don’t ya think?!)
- Growing strategies to maximize space.
- Espalier fruit trees: create a living fence. (I was so excited to learn about this from her book. I’m going to try to plant some fruit trees this year using this method.)
- Eating seasonally including foraging with tons of recipes.
- A great section on preserving.
- Favorite section: Building Food Community. In this section she writes about the importance of bartering, ways to build food communities, and how to coordinate a bulk produce buy.
- Buying meat in bulk.
- U-Slaughter on the farm.
- Raising backyard meat and how to slaughter.
- Favorite section: Soaps and sundries. I love this part of her book. She includes recipes on how to make your own soaps, lotions, salves, balms and other personal care products.
- My ABSOLUTE favorite section: Annette’s Calendar! Yes, she includes her own calendar on what she gets done month by month. Whether it’s starting seedlings inside, preserving a seasonal fruit, or hosting a seasonal bartering event.
Although this book follows the seasons according to the Pacific Northwest, you can see that the information included is a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to start on their journey or build upon their knowledge of urban/homesteading.
This is truly a great handbook to have on hand and one that I’m happy to own. I’m currently starting my seeds for this new gardening season, will begin vermiculture and am going to follow some of her gardening design suggestions in order to accomodate fruit trees and a grape arbor this year.
Also, for anyone interested, Annette and Josh are currently hosting an Urban Farm Handbook Challenge. Each month a blogger is hosting a challenge for each of you to grow in living a local and sustainable lifestyle.
So my question to you is, are you on your way to the new gardening season?! Tell me, what are your new urban/homesteading plans for this year?