My Favorite Urban/Homesteading Resource: The Urban Farm Handbook

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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.
  • Curing
  • 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?


11 Responses to "My Favorite Urban/Homesteading Resource: The Urban Farm Handbook"
  1. Brittany P. says:

    Thanks for a great review of this book. I have been looking at it for a while and wondering if it would be good for me and it sounds like it definitely is. I will be adding it to my “books I really want to read” list.

    Funny how you are adding fruit trees and grapes this year, we are too. Down south we grow muscadine and scuppernong grapes so we will probably plant one of those types, well actually two of the same kind cuz we have to plant a male and female in order to get grapes. We would also like to plant some sort of seedless variety. We also will be building a big chicken yard for the chickens and trying out some new breeds.

    Good luck with your garden plans this year!!! We are so excited for Spring to arrive. Dirty nails… here I come!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Those sound like great plans Brittany! I still need to do some research on grapes but right now I’m thinking about Concord seedless grapes. Oh the juice from concords is phenomenol! Here’s to a great season 😀

  2. IAMSNWFLAKE says:

    I’m on my way to her blog. Later this afternoon I’ll come back and browse the book, it looks so promising.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. City Share says:

    What a great review. I want to head right out and get the book. Always find inspiration from you. Thanks.

  4. Dana says:

    How neat! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to read a bit on her site this evening. I went online to my library and put a Hold on the book. They just got it in and as soon as it’s placed into circulation, I’ll get it. Yay!

    I am busy planning my garden for this season. I can’t really plant anything outdoors until at least mid May. Might try to cold frame some things this year though.

    Hope your simplification plans are going well. :)

    • Diana Bauman says:

      That’s awesome Dana! I didn’t realize it was already in the library. Good to know ;D Things are going well. I’m just learning to trust more on God and be content… which can be so darn difficult, lol!

  5. Patti says:

    Discovered Annette’ blog last week and just purchased her book this week. I am really enjoying both.

  6. Megan Elzey says:

    What a great looking book! I was just noticing this morning that it is getting light earlier. I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt! I just have a small backyard garden, but this year I am hoping to grow some herbs and such along with my veggies.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt to Megan! Yes, adding herbs is wonderful!! Especially that most are perennial and they’ll come up year after year. I love seeing my mint first thing in Spring. Oh.. I’m way too excited for Spring to arrive.

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