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Book Review: Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator

  • Subject: [cg] Book Review: Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator
  • From: Alliums garlicgrower@earthlink.net
  • Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 15:12:38 -0500

Hi, Folks!

Last book review until February -- too much to do! Let me know if you are interested in using it -- I retain copyright.


Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator:  Edible Essays on City Farming by Spring Gillard, New Society Publishers, 2003.  ISBN:  0-86571-492-4, $15.95.
When folks ask questions on the American Community Gardening Association listserve (join at http://www.communitygarden.org/listserve/index.html), the regulars usually advise them to:
1) Ask Adam Honigman (Clinton Community Garden Volunteer, New York City)


2) Check the City Farmer website (http://www.cityfarmer.org/, Vancouver, BC)
Diary of a Compost Hotline Operator gives you everything the City Farmer website is known for:  top-notch information and resources/links for every problem an urban (and not so urban) grower faces:  water issues, critter control, natural lawn care, alternatives to pesticides, edible landscapes, doggy doo, good and bad bugs and of course, extensive information on urban composting.  Every chapter ends with a Contacts and Resources section that lists the best websites, organizations and publications for the chapter’s topics.  And, it’s funny, too.
As the Compost Hotline Operator for City Farmer – Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture (a 26 year old organization that really does have a life outside its website!) since 1991, Spring Gillard has heard it all – and enjoyed every minute of it.  An advertising refugee, Gillard uses her considerable wordsmithing talents to leaven the serious information she imparts with a generous dollop of humor and all around “joie de vie” about the life she now lives.
The biggest advantages of the book over the website are that it’s portable, it’s better organized and you get the real dirt about the dedicated (The PR materials which came with the book use such terms as “eccentric,” “motley crew” and “crazed,” but I guess I’ve been in urban agriculture too long– everyone at City Farmer sounds downright normal to me!) people who work, learn and/or are resources for City Farmer.
If you’ve been in urban agriculture for any amount of time, this book will ring true.  If you’re thinking about serious growing in an urban area or are just starting your first compost heap, read this book.  You’ll find both the information you need and a warm welcome to one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding endeavors in North America.
Reviewed by Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John’s United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
Phoenixville, PA

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