“Empowers readers with a toolkit of traditional and sustainable practices for an emerging artisanal crafts movement, and a brighter future.” —Alice Waters, chef and owner, Chez Panisse; founder, The Edible Schoolyard Project
Modern life is a cornucopia of technological wonders. But is something precious being lost? A tangible bond with our natural world—the deep satisfaction of connecting to the earth that was enjoyed by previous generations?
In The Heirloom Gardener, John Forti celebrates gardening as a craft and shares the lore and traditional practices that link us with our environment and with each other. Charmingly illustrated and brimming with wisdom, this guide will inspire you to slow down, recharge, and reconnect.
Garden historian Forti debuts with an earnest but overripe treatise on the "heirloom gardening lifestyle." Railing against modern industry, corporations, and GMOs, Forti champions local and artisanal products as "a delicious act of resistance" to consumerism and argues "sustainable practices can meet financial bottom lines and foster an environment that allows us to eat, drink, and breathe." His musings cover such topics as sea vegetables, medicinal herbs, his work saving "forgotten fruits," the joy of edible flowers, and plants native to New England. He also covers tips for crafts (such as building a herbarium), foraging, and pandemic-inspired back-to-the-land survival. Forti finds some fascinating historical tidbits the Victorian era's fondness for lawns, chestnuts' role as a protein staple until the trees were wiped out by fungus but his perspective often strikes as elitist and off-putting ("Instead of impulsively buying into cheap particleboard that will end up in landfill, I wait until I can afford a locally crafted wooden table"). This lands as mostly a work that preaches to the choir. Those not of a similar mindset can safely take a pass.