“As a modern consumer, you don’t have much control over the food you put in your family’s mouths, but as a backyard farmer, you can have 100 percent control.” This basic statement encapsulates both the “why” and the “how” that is embedded in this thoughtful and thoroughly practical guide to feeding your family without leaving home.
Shelton is the creator of the successful website Homestead.org, providing weekly articles by various writers
(including Shelton himself) on a wide range of subject matter, from birthing baby animals to burying your loved ones in a green and frugal way. A homesteader by conviction, the author has put his beliefs to the test on his land in the Ozarks.
The Everything Backyard Farming Book is a large format, amply illustrated book that takes the reader through the basics and complexities of becoming a green revolutionary in one’s backyard. Pointing out that farming doesn’t have to be large-scale to be successful, the author even examines issues such as how to placate neighbors if you live in tight urban quarters, who might not approve of seeing rows of edible green cabbage where once was a swath of inedible, high maintenance green grass. If you have to, start small, with salad veggies. Build raised beds, which are tidy and can even be attractive, and though labor intensive to get started, are sciatica-sufferer-friendly in the long haul. Maximize space by intensive planting. If you want a compost heap, be prepared to maintain it. Can you get some rabbit manure? A pond, a tractor, a toolshed, a greenhouse--all excellent accouterment if you have sufficient acreage. Fencing is a boon for a variety of reasons--keeping critters from doing what comes naturally (raiding your crops) and keeping your neighbors from seeing what’s going on in your yard.
While recognizing that we are all going to be dependent on mega-agribusiness, Shelton believes we can still produce much of the nutrition and flavor we need at home. He gives advice about what to grow as well as how to grow it, and extends his guidance to animal husbandry--chickens, a pig, or even a miniature cow (I personally love this idea). Going beyond the raising to the keeping, TEBFB explores food preservation and selling what you grow, with a tip of the hat to the Community Supported Agriculture network.
With few stones left unturned (or stacked up to make a barrier wall) TEBFB is a must-read for anyone considering getting back to the land, whether starting from scratch or converting your land--even a small backyard space--to a healthy, economical purpose.