The Wisdom of the Radish by Lynda Hopkins

Wow…I just finished this book and it’s the best farming related book that I’ve read since Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Just as wonderful of an experience as reading the latter. I can’t thank Debi enough for recommending this book to me. It’s definitely one for the keeper shelves that will be revisited again and again.

There literally wasn’t anything that I didn’t love about this book. Lynda Hopkins tells us the story of her small farm that she started with her partner, Emmet. And she tells it in ways that will bring you through a huge range of emotions, but always ending in laughter. Lynda and Emmet decided to start their own small scale farm after Spending a year going from farm to farm in New Zealand and volunteering on their farms. She details their experience of starting their own small scale farm (which gradually grows) in The Wisdom of the Radish.

When they start their little garden, it’s with the goal of selling their produce at the farmer’s market. Which they do. They take us through the growing of beans, tomatoes, lettuces, radishes, cucumbers, melons and all other sorts of things while at the same time giving the reader a bit of an education. One thing Lynda points out to us is that this is HARD WORK! But in writing this book, she’s given some tips to hopefully help us all out in our own gardens! There are set backs…there’s sadness, but it’s ultimately a very happy story..a story that had me smiling from ear to ear for most of the time.

She shares with us the history of many of these vegetables…where they came from…how they developed into what they are today. She shares with us her joys of being a first time farmer, the sadness of losing crops and losing animals, the rewards of living sustainably and the satisfaction of a job well done.

And then there are animals! You see…this starts out as just a vegetable business, but then quickly adds chickens!! I love her relationships with her animals ๐Ÿ™‚ And by the end there are goats and sheep and alpacas. Totally a woman after my own heart. I too would not be satisfied with just a few rows of vegetables, lol. And as I said, her writing is just top notch. She made me laugh my ass off so many times. Here’s an excerpt of her talking about one particular male sheep:

Neither Emmett nor I had ever kicked or hit an animal before; it just wasn’t in our character. But on separate occasions, we each took a whack at Teddy. It is extremely difficult to avoid hurting an animal that has just pummeled you with all the force in his hefty, stocky body – has in fact knocked you to the ground that he has conveniently just shat upon – and is backing up to do it again with a look in his eye that comes straight from hell. We figured we needed to go Cesar Milan on his ass: teach him that we, and not he, were the top rams in the flock.

Unfortunately, performing self-defense karate on Teddy was like kicking a boulder. It hurt the foot far more than the ram. Actually, kicking Teddy was worse than kicking a rock: rocks don’t laugh at you. After what I thought was a powerful counter-attack – his head meeting my sole instead of it’s intended destination, which was the soft spot behind my knees – Teddy would wiggle his tail, which seemed to be ovine for , “hee hee; that tickles, silly human.” The he’d use me as a scratching post and rub his oily, snotty nose on my leg. Then, if I turned my back, the rat bastard ottoman of a sheep would ram me again.

Seriously…it’s gold. What this book made me want more than anything is to have my own decent sized garden. And maybe some goats >> Animal, Vegetable, Miracle made me want to garden more…this book has made me want to dive full force into something larger. I texted Matt and asked him for permission to set up my own little farm stand where I could sell some veggies we grew and we could decorate it really cute and make it super farmy looking. He said OK :p

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5 Responses

  1. I’m so glad you liked it!!! I swear I spent half the time while reading it being ridiculously envious of her and the other half being incredibly grateful I wasn’t in her shoes. ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. This sounds like a great one to read. I have to admit, even I have been thinking about gardening lately. I’ve read both The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, both of which are fantastic, and it’s got me thinking even more about clean food than I used to. I just found out there’s a farmer’s market near me in San Antonio, which will help since gardening there with all the drought we get would be near impossible, and we all want to start a garden whenever we manage to move up north again.

  3. I’m adding this one to my list right now!

  4. Wow — this sounds great! I checked and our library has it on the shelf — grabbing it tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I would definitely buy veggies from you and Matt! ๐Ÿ™‚ I would love to have chickens but haven’t been able to get myself to build the coop yet. I guess I’m not completely decided yet. Maybe after we get used to the new puppydog.

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