Before our family deteriorated by my adolescence, my identification with the American culture, and my military service, my parents had always grew potatoes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, and all kinds of things as far as I can remember. Each season, we would gather as a family, dig-up what little land we could use, and plant seeds and care for them until harvest. When we first moved to Beijing, we had a small garden in the back of our dorm building. I was always warned not to steal the strawberries before they got to the right ripeness. When we moved to the US in the 90s, we had lived on the first floor of a duplex. My parents would grow vegetables in the back yard each Summer. I would take my brother, two or three years old at the time, help pull weeds and manage the small crops.
Since I began to live on my own and began to think about my life's past, I tried to grow something each year, to remember our times together - as a family. I also grow things to regain some sense of sanity in my world. There is nothing better than labor and sweat to redeem my sinking memories.
A few days ago I was alerted to a new book by Rachel Kaplan and Ruby Blume. Kaplan rightfully claimed
“[w]e are at a cultural crossroads in terms of our relationship to the earth . . .. It’s clear that what we’re doing isn’t working anymore, and we need to find another way to live. Urban homesteading offers a series of practices that help us become stewards of the earth.”
She made me realized that it was my fond memories for a happier times that made me focus on Sustainability in my current work. I am glad someone else has found that same source for Sustainability to call for others to rethink our relationship with our land and our families.
Their new book is titled Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living (April 2011, Skyhorse Publishing). Their hopes are to give every day people the tools they need to live more sustainably, in small and big ways. The book is to be a comprehensive guide to self-reliance, green living and the growing movement of urban homesteading around the country.
I am excited for this book. I hope this book brings your families together just as my family once had came together, just as I hope my family will come together in the future.
About the Authors of the book:
Rachel Kaplan has been gardening in and around urban environments for more than 20 years and belongs to a bicoastal family of farmers and gardeners. She is a psychotherapist and educator, and offers consultation with a permaculture focus for businesses, non-profits, schools and community groups. She holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Sonoma State University, and a second degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from San Francisco State. She has written and edited numerous books, including The Probable Garden of Eden. Rachel lives in Petaluma, California with her partner and their daughter on a little homestead they call Tiny Town Farm.
K. Ruby Blume is an educator, gardener, beekeeper, artist, and activist, with more than twenty years of experience gardening in urban settings. She has worked extensively in the arts and is the co-founder and artistic director of Wise Fool Puppet Intervention, an environmental justice project. In 2008, she founded the Institute of Urban Homesteading, a project dedicated to promoting localism, self-reliance, and urban sustainability through low-cost adult education. Ruby lives and works in Oakland, California.