{Giveaway} Backyard Roots: Lessons on Living Simply From 35 Urban Farmers

A few years ago I met photographer and author Lori Eanes when she came to take pictures of my garden for a book she was doing. The book is called Backyard Roots: Lessons on Living Simply From 35 Urban Farmers, and it’s a highly visual exploration of urban farms up and down the west coast from Vancouver to San Francisco.

backyard roots_bookcover

Thirty-five urban homesteaders are featured, and through their stories and the photos and descriptions of their set-ups the book covers the full range of urban farming activities.

The farmers in Backyard Roots pluck vegetables from their raised beds or permaculture food forests or rooftops gardens. Greens and herbs are foraged, ornamental public trees are covertly converted into fruit-bearers through guerrilla grafting, fresh exotic mushrooms are grown for farmers markets and restaurants. People share their focus on self-sustainability or work to bring together a larger community. There are kids and critters in the mix: toddlers and teenagers, chickens, goats, ducks, fish, and bees.



I’m in there too, with my kids and my Felcos and my greenhouse full of cucumbers and my advice to think like a plant. It’s a trip to see yourself in a book (I hadn’t cut my hair in eighteen months, and you can tell!), but it’s been wonderful to read through all the stories, and to show my kids pictures of other families doing the same kind of thing we’re doing.


My daughter! Whoot-whoot!

Erica Strauss 's daughter Bella, 7, loves having chickens.

Backyard Roots gives a stong visual tour of what it is to be a west-coast urban farmer. It is a fabulous work for inspiration that really captures the diversity of weirdos like me (and maybe you?) who think that ripping up lawn to grow veggies or graze farm animals is a great idea – even in the city.

The YWCA rooftop garden in downtown Vancouver.

Kitty Sharkey walks her Nigerian dwarf goats in her East Oakland neighborhood.

Get Your Own Copy of Backyard Roots – Free!

Skipstone Press, the publishing house of Backyard Roots, is giving away a copy of Backyard Roots to three lucky NWEdible readers.

To enter to win, leave a comment on this blog post telling me what kind of urban (or rural!) homestead activity you find most inspiring, and what activity you find most intimidating. I am, personally, very intimidated by anything having to do with animals that lactate. I’ll take poultry and bees any day, and leave the goats and mini-cows to other, braver urban farmers.

Contest will close Friday, November 29th at 8 pm PST. The three winners will be contacted by email. Open to US and Canadian residents only due to shipping. Best of luck everyone!

Image Credit: All images featured in this post are copyright Lori Eanes. Used with permission.


  1. says

    The thing I find the most inspiring is the action of going against what expectations people have of what land can be used for, especially in urban or suburban environments. What I find most intimidating is the care of larger animals, but also the level of organization needed to manage everything on a homestead, like manure composting, feeding animals, seedling and planting timelines,…thanks!

  2. Sharon T says

    I’m inspired by communities who come together and build community gardens in abandoned lots or where ever they can find a spot of soil to plant something beautiful or edible. I would be intimidated by bees. I’ve always been afraid of them. Large animals and chickens don’t bother me because I grew up helping my parents raise chickens, cows and pigs for food.

  3. Mary Hall says

    Inspiring would be chickens–I’m DYING to get a few hens in the spring. My intimidating would be beekeeping. While I’m oddly fascinated about this process, the thought of all that’s involved makes me hesitate enough not even to considering trying.

  4. says

    Most inspiring – definitely our small flock of chickens. We haven’t had them long but I’m amazed every time I see eggs from such little input!

    Intimidating – earthworks. I dug, filled, and mounded up some Hugel beds in the garden and am now planning to swale about a half acre out front for an orchard. A project that big (for me) is intimidating as there’s a fifty percent chance ill screw it up!

  5. says

    Well this book is inspiring for starters. Also inspiring is the way in which our Toronto neighbours have helped us grow our vegetable landscaping business. We are fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded people who want so see more people growing their own food. My husband and I operate our company out of our own home but every square inch of our our tiny 20’x20′ yard is covered in raised beds our our single car garage is filled to the brim with a large inventory of locally made cedar raised beds. A neighbour down the lane with whom we share an alley, allows us to store bags of triple mix and vermicompost, a second neighbour along the same alley has donated their garage for our tools and supplies and a third neighbour has just announced that she will allow us to set up a good size greenhouse in her backyard in exchange for a vegetable garden. (and her neighbours on both sides are thrilled!) We simply could not operate without these wonderful neighbours who have become partners and allies in our quest to ignite urbanite’s passion for growing their own food.

  6. Becky says

    Most inspiring is when we sit down to a meal that totally came from our garden! Most intimidating….weeds! hahahahaha!

  7. John R says

    I’m old now and as I think back over my life, I have thought that I wouldn’t change a thing, I have lived a full and rewarding adventure. I have done things others have only dreamed of, BUT, there is always a but. When I see the photo of your little darlin, she looks so much like one of my daughters at that age. The photos of mine are holding a basketball, or soccer ball instead of a chicken. I would change that. My grandchildren from Utah came to visit this summer. Two went out in the backyard and then came in screaming that a chicken was after them. I thought that “killer rooster” is at it again. If only my children and grandchildren had grown up with critters. I have the critters now, but the children and grandchildren don’t seem to come around anymore. I’m so glad to see the photo of the lady with the goats on a leash. It helps me with the thoughts that I was weird. I have those dog collars that she has for my goats that I take for walks along the small highway in front of my house.
    Intimidating??? I’ll tell you what is intimidating. Everything I do for prepping. I have pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits, apple trees, and one dog that thinks she is boss, and I have no idea of what I am doing. If it weren’t for sites like yours and many others like yours, I would be lost. Thank you very much for sharing your insight and knowledge, and don’t you dare give up because of douche waffles.

  8. Melissa C. says

    I’m most inspired by the huge garden yields in small spaces…It gives me a reality check when I complain about my small yard which is actually pretty huge by some people’s standards…But I’m don’t think I could handle goats and their creepy eyes ;-)

  9. Clare says

    I am most inspired when I know that my food comes from my garden to my table in less than 30 minutes and that it was grown free of chemicals and supports my overall health in fantastic ways.

    Most intimidating are the morning glory vine weeds. This is not the pretty stuff and it has permeated my gardening space going on 30 years now even though I have pulled and smothered, etc…. but I continue on !

    Thank you for this opportunity. I am east of the Cascades, but I’m sure I will learn much from this, because gardeners are continual learners, aren’t we?

  10. Michelle Flannery says

    I am inspired by the act of gardening. As simple as gardening may seem, and in many ways it is, gardening challenges us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If we can meet those challenges, even imperfectly, then we can find wholeness. The most intimidating activity, to me, is caring for livestock. These are lives dependent on our ability to know and provide for their needs. The cost, on all levels, of losing vegetation is nothing compared to the cost of losing our animals.

  11. says

    Inspiring? Watching those all those beautiful apple green tree leaves emerge from their plump little buds in the spring. Noticing how they go through their own color and texture changes as they mature. Seeing them unfurl and open, nodding in the breeze, every where, every place. That’s heady stuff. Intimidating? Thinking how I’ll have to rake all those leaves up for the compost pile.

  12. Rebecca says

    I’m most inspired by backyard duck and chicken keepers. The idea of going out to the coop and getting fresh eggs along with the idea of having livestock to care for is a whole other level of urban sustainability. I daydream about it and hope that some day I’ll have the time, dedication, and city ordinances to be able to do the same.
    I’m most intimidated by growing a garden. You’d think that gardening is probably the definition of a starting place for urban homesteading, but for me (an utterly new gardener) taking the leap of deciding what to plant and figuring out where and how to plant it is a hugely intimidating step. I’m in the process of turning our small townhouse front yard into a raised bed vegetable garden (its the only space available). There are so many possibilities for greatness and mistakes and so much hope and joy over our first too small carrots and newly sprouting shallots. It’s a constant feeling of “here goes nothing” with fingers crossed every time we plant a seed. Exciting, but totally intimidating.

  13. says

    I’m inspired by the prospect of fruit trees and a full yard of garden. My folks were farmers and when I was young, they went “back to the land” for a few years in their fifties. So large animals don’t bother me. I’d love to have chickens again, except I can’t eat eggs. But chickens make great pets and compost, though I do think my compost champions are the rabbits.
    I’m allergic to bees, so yeah–bees are intimidating. My last nasty sting came when I was picking green beans.

  14. carol says

    Most inspiring is providing your own organic food. Most intimidating is finding a way to make it work into our old age.

  15. Amy says

    I’m most inspired by easy/lazy gardening. Love apple trees… what an incredible investment. Most intimidating: keeping up with all my garden expansions!

  16. Becky S says

    In the morning as soon as it starts getting light, my goats begin calling to me. I LOVE that sound. Why do the ground squirrels and gophers think they should have first pick of my labor of love garden plantings. Geez!

  17. Raven says

    I’m a country gardener with a full time city job. What’s inspiring to me about homesteading is how many different talents and personalities it accommodates and requires. There’s a place for all the strengths and talents people bring to it from other activities, so it attracts people from all walks of life. Detail minded people can grow 8 varieties of pepper and keep records of which one they like best for which purpose. Sturdy people can heave clay soil and manure around and less robust people can build layer leaves and plant debris in place in the garden and build soil in slower ways. Organizers can get whole neighborhoods to push for changes in local livestock ordinances. Some of us own trucks, some of us have only our wheelbarrows and buckets and bicycles. There’s a project (or 9 or 10) for every one of us.

    What intimidates me? Building. I dread the prospect of replacing that shed that is collapsing in the yard. The garden “gate” is a roll of fencing that I move out of the way when I want in and put back in place when I leave. Ridiculous, right? Yup. But it’s there. If a job takes careful measuring and cutting and getting things to fit neatly, I want to run away and do something free and loose with dirt. I built two raised beds with wood sides last spring, happy to make something that didn’t require precision, something where the gaps could easily be filled up by dirt. I know I can manage a small project but I bow down and kiss the toes of anyone who has ever managed a whole chicken coop, beehive or coldframe. You’ve got the real thing!

  18. Ellen Guttormson says

    Right now I am most inspired by gaining more knowledge about permaculture gardens and developing my own food forest along with all of the other “regular” methods of growing. Also so inspired and excited about using a new large greenhouse that we finished at the end of last summer. Can’t wait for the extension of growing season at either end in 2014. Also inspired by going through seed catalogues and starting to make orders…..the excitement of what to grow next year. Just so many things that are inspirational about gardening that it would take a lot more space to list them all…..sorry….did not limit this to one thing. What is most intimidating….trying to keep the deer from eating my garden and the racoons and hawks from getting my chickens.

  19. says

    Inspiring: the ability to graze. Right now we’re eating snap peas and raspberries. My daily breakfast is a fried egg (with toast, or a bit rice and beans or khichari).

    Intimidating: Most of it. I have hired two wonderful people who work with local urban farming organizations to help me with my yard. Eric turned my decrepit old greenhouse into a chicken castle. Adam put in the snow peas a month or two ago, and keeps adding new wonders.

  20. Anne Larocca says

    I am most inspired and intimidated by the same thing: permaculture. I can only inch toward it, love to see how others do it.

  21. Melody says

    I am inspired by chickens. My family would love to get some. I am intimidated by keeping them safe! So many raccoons….

  22. Jeremy W says

    What I find the most inspiring about gardening is the smile on my families face as they bight into a fresh tomato or other vegie they just picked. What I find to be the most intimidating thing in my garden is finding space for all the wonderful things I want to plant. It’s getting really hard to find room for everything in my back yard.

  23. Susan says

    We just have a small garden on the deck of our 2nd floor duplex– I’d love it if we had more. The most inspiring thing is even when I’m lazy and neglect the garden it still produces. Now that it’s fall in NJ most everything has petered out, but a couple days ago there were still some sprigs of rosemary to pluck for soup! The most intimidating thing is the idea of scaling up. I’d love to plant more, but just haven’t.

  24. Alaina says

    I am most inspired by bee-keeping. I am also most terrified by bee-keeping. It is a goal and a great fear of mine.

  25. Mari says

    I am inspired by those who are more industrious than I and manage to have bountiful gardens and to make the most of their crop. I have ambitions to do more preserving but life keeps getting in the what and that is ok.
    I am with you on the lactating animals. I am a lactating animal right now and I can barely manage that.

    • says

      Exactly. It was while nursing my (then) young son for the 19th time in one day that I said, “Screw it. I never want to put in this much work or time for something that I didn’t give birth to.”

  26. Nikki says

    I’m inspired by my neighbor who grows a fresh garden in their street strip, the only part of their yard that gets sufficient sun. I love seeing people grow their own food in concert with/place of decorative plants. I am intrigued/daunted by livestock. I really want chickens and bees and maybe someday cows (seriously dream of living on a mini-farm someday), but seeing how well some of my plant experiments have gone, I’m not sure I have time right now to dedicate to animals.

  27. Deanna says

    I am most intimidated by sourdough bread, to be exact spelt sourdough bread. There have been some “interesting” results over the years. Working in the veg patch or knitting is a wonderful way to focus my mind and find peace.

  28. Jennifer says

    I live in Denver, CO and have already taken the chicken plunge and LOVE it. I love my girls and their antics and… their eggs! The next step is goats. This terrifies me but also feels necessary because my stomach literally can not stand the processed milk products found in stores!

  29. says

    Inspiring: kids involved and expressing their love for nature and growing their own food.
    Intimidating: trying to build structures from repurposed materials.

  30. Linda says

    I’m inspired by the way my husband and I have begun to create our edible garden. Together we continue to research the how and why of urban gardens and have managed to create a small garden. We’re learning through trial and error, which can be intimidating in and of itself when you don’t really know what you’re doing. We have a new found appreciation for mother earth.

  31. ms says

    I’m inspired by chickens. They take away a lot of our food garbage and give us fertilizer for our gardens and pretty little edible oval presents in the nesting box. They’re also extremely entertaining – better than tv.

    I’m most intimidated by building hardscapes – the actual construction process of making raised beds and replacing structures.

  32. Jason says

    I think the answer for both of these is chickens. In a sububrban setting its tough to keep up with zoning rules and regulations as well as keeping wild (and not so wild) animals from causing problems.

  33. Wendy Schroeder says

    I am most inspired by permaculture based ideas that repair the land and soil to produce food and wilderness, even in small spaces like back yards that are often so lacking in soil and nutrients. I would love to see those miles of backyards connect into a growing wilderness of food, pollinators, and happy people!
    Intimidating? Dealing with the preserving of all my garden produce. Tackling that 200 pounds of tomatoes in the freezer has me squirming with dread of the mess and the work!

  34. says

    Witnessing the magic of life as seedlings emerge in greenhouse flats never fails to inspire imaginings of the best garden ever, and leads to expanding rows and tucking extras into odd unplanned places. The scope of work my husband and I generate for ourselves in the garden is intimidating, and sometimes I just feel overwhelmed when I think about the task list that grows, and never seems to shrink. A motherlode crop of something causes paralysis to set in, until I get a grip, ignore the rest of the list and dive in to get it all picked, eaten and processed before it’s over the hill. How many times have I learned the lesson that pleasure is in every small step and piece of the journey, and while my garden will never be perfect, the big picture looks feels and tastes pretty darn good.

  35. Jess says

    I am most inspired by using urban farming as a social justice tool – helping folks without access to healthy foods grow their own. I am most intimidated by issues of gentrification and ways that gardens can up the cute factor in a neighborhood and serve as a tipping point for neighborhood change – a process that can be both positive and negative.

  36. says

    I am so inspired by my bees and my chickens. They are gateways, of course… but on a half acre, that’s all I can do. I am intimidated by powertools, so I am not one of those women who can just build whatever I want. Thankfully, I married an engineer (which is why we are in the suburbs… for now. The middle of nowhere will be home in a few years, when he can retire.)

  37. Kathryn says

    Most inspiring: the infinite forms that flowers take in color and shape.
    Most intimidating: buttercup – can’t seem to get rid of it!

  38. Carmen Hirkala says

    I don’t know if I would stretch myself to say I’m an urban farmer, but I hope one day to feel confident enough to call myself one. I love working on my edible gardening practices and have enjoyed composting, and adding fruit trees to our backyard flora. I’m thoroughly intimidated, but super thrilled about the idea of extending my edible garden out of boxes and into the front yard by ripping out the turf and just going for it. I want to have something in the front that can be beautiful all year long and find the perfect balance of perennials and pollinator encouraging brushes, with maintained pathways and good focal points. Now to just find a way to do it right without spending a fortune! Oh oh, and I so want a little goat for the backyard :)

  39. Margie Krause says

    We love, love, love our chickens! We live in a sand pit but after 20 years of building up our soil it is some better. I work away from home but being home with family and friends is what we love the most

  40. Caroline says

    I am inspired by communities who pull together to create a common garden…looking after bees intimidates me…though I would love to have my own supply of honey.

  41. says

    I am most inspired by small-scale permaculture, mini orchards, and season-extension in our cold climate. And always intimidated by the time and energy it takes to process all the food each year.

  42. says

    I’m inspired by the rooftop urban garden I work on with the people in my co-op. It amazes me how much food we get from it, and we’re still working out how to fit more up there, and we had two beehives this spring for the first time. It surprised quite how much I got involved with the hives, but I love beekeeping, it turns out! We work on the whole garden communally, which works so well for us, it makes the amount of work easier to bear. I’d be intimidated by keeping chickens, we have coyotes and bears and raccoons and all sorts, I don’t think we could keep them safe (no room on the roof !).

  43. Debbie M says

    Im inspired by mother nature and the changes each year BUT that is also the problem of living in the far north. Everything is a challenge here…chickens wont produce when its this cold and bees die and the greenhouse crops are done by early Sept. Now its snow till at least the end of April…..

  44. says

    What I find most inspiring is the idea of living a life that is honest and sustainable (not dependent on the environmentally/socially destructive extractive economy). Everyday I learn a little more that will help me move my life in that direction. The most intimidating part is doing it on my own! I spent last summer on an organic vegetable farm in Northern Virginia, and now I’m planning a move to a micro-dairy outside of Denver. So far I’ve been latching onto these wonderful people who are actually doing it! Its very exciting to be supported by wise elders while I’m on this everlasting pursuit of knowledge and freedom, however it can be a little scary to think of the sacrifices that these folks have made to pursue their chosen lifestyles. How will I ever make it to where they are? There are a lot of barriers built into our culture that make it hard for a young person to find land and community support, but dammit I’m trying! Cheers to blogs like this for providing those bits of inspiration that help all of us reach our goals!

  45. Francie Voelker says

    I love growing root veggies, not much to it . Things that need to be pruned or cut back confuse and intimidate me because I am worried I will do it wrong .

  46. Catrina Kingsley says

    The most inspiring thing for me about urban farming is seeing how much food one can grow in such a small area! It amazes me! As for something that intimidates me I’m not sure I have one. Currently we live within a small rural village and are not allowed to have chickens or anything of the like so gardening in my several raised beds is pretty much the limits for me here. However, we do own 2 acres in the country that we will eventually be moving to. Once we’re all moved I desperately want to produce all the honey, fruits and vegetables we consume (year round gardening as well as preserving food) and not purchase any if those items from a store again. This large task is a bit intimidating as itwill be all new to us.

  47. Leya says

    Most inspiring…my tomatoes in their 7 foot cages. Glorious summer in every bit. Most intimidating…most everything else…just starting gardening in this area. Chickens with our crazy backyard, kids and 2 large dogs is the one thing I’d like to tackle, but just cant get started. Thank you for all of your insight. It really is appreciated!!

  48. Emily Delaney says

    Congratulations! The book looks fabulous! I am most inspired by seeing my children’s wonder and joy in the garden. The commitment required by my “big” ideas intimidates me.

  49. Vylotte says

    I am inspired by anyone who farms in their yard, whether it be a large operation or small. Any act of reclaiming lawn or landscaping for food brings the cycle back into our control, and brings life to our neighborhoods. As for intimidating, I’d have to say chickens. I know theoretically everything that needs to be done, but taking those steps seems overwhelming, starting with fencing in my yard and going from there.

  50. Thom Foote says

    The most inspiring thing I can think of is when, at the “end” of the season, I look in my well house and see the jars of jam, pickles, tomaotes and other produce that I have canned for use that year. The most intimidating thing on our 10 acre hillside farm is the clay we have for soil and the amount of time it will take to build soil on top of it.

  51. Laura Roys says

    I love my garden and my chickens! I’m in PNW suburbia, but I still have plans for ducks, turkeys, and goats. I absolutely loved this book, it’s how I found your blog! It’s wonderful to know how many creative and dedicated backyard farmers are out there. Each and every one featured in this book is inspiring. As too an aspect of backyard farming that I find intimidating, it would have to be bees. I am mildly allergic and carry an Epi-pen as a precaution when summer gardening. I have lots of wild honey bees who love my flowering herbs (I let the herbs flower and then place their containers near my squash and cucumbers for excellent pollination—wasn’t that one of your tips?). I always chat with the bees and thank them when I’m working around them and they don’t bother me and vice versa! I’ve even checked out books on beekeeping from the library and imagined where I would put a top bar hive, but I always get cold feet at the thought of suiting up. The other problem is using smoke to calm the hive with my severe asthma since smoke is a big wheezing trigger for me. Maybe someone will invent something other then smoke that I can use to work on a hive!

  52. Terri Ford says

    I’m inspired by all of it. Growing food turns me on. Chickens, fruit and veggies, sharing and learning and dirty broken finger nails, smelling the soil …all of it. :)

  53. says

    Fresh vegetables and berries on the dining table is the most inspiring to continue the garden (the exercise factor ain’t bad either!) Bees, I want to have a hive and bring more bees to my garden.

  54. Monica Meyette says

    I find the freedom from convention and learning to be self reliant most inspiring, and I am intimidated by the things I don’t yet understand like gardening and canning. I am excited to get my hands dirty though! We have horses, dairy goats, chickens (dual purpose I have bred and we raise and butcher as well as collect eggs), our mini donkey is our goat protector, dogs and our first baby! Someday I would like to raise a couple of cows and get bees!

  55. Rob says

    Inspiration: permaculture. I think the Urgan Farmers do it instinctively (labor saving, good designs). But studying the real science of it gives you a framework or toolkit to expand to all your available inputs. So I periodically check the web for new sites with their experiences.

    Intimidating: no, goats are great, we’ve had them but only when my children were growing up and we used all that milk – but they will eat anything in the garden if they get loose which they are masters of escape. For me I would say taking the next step of selling to the public and quitting the full-time job.

  56. says

    I am inspired by those who take out their yards to grow food!…lol! We have chickens. I am working on how to keep a garden and not have the chickens destroy the garden. I will get there…eventually ;)

  57. Laurel Langworthy says

    Would love to win a copy of this. I’m a beginning backyard gardener, so a lot of things are intimidating, but mostly anything with animals. The most inspiring thing was how well my zucchini did this year;) Can you tell this was the first year my garden really took off!:)

  58. Heather says

    I’m inspired by the amount of food that can be produced in tiny spaces. I’m overwhelmed by dairy animals. So much work!

  59. Elizabeth Hertz-Wahl says

    I’m inspired to try new veggies in the garden every year, and to slowly spread out productive garden space while decreasing lawn. I haven’t yet made the plunge to animals, but I very much want to. Chickens will be first. Rabbits and goats may be in another lifetime.

  60. Sarah says

    Looks like an awesome book. I think people who tear up all their lawn and replace it with plants are inspiring and tending bees seems very intimidating given the sting factor.

  61. says


    I’m most inspired by harvesting veggies even right now in the last week of November! And I’m most intimidated by fertilizer and compost!! I’m baffled by the way things that seem easy and effortless one year turn out to be really difficult the next, and vice versa! And I”m inspired by the fact that mostly the plants just keep growing, in spite of my ineptitude!

    Thanks for the great give away!

  62. Rachel says

    Backyard bees would be the most intimidating. I think the greenhouses made out of recycled doors and windows are very inspiring.

  63. SusanK says

    I’m equally inspired and fascinated by the hard working worms in my worm bin and how, with very little effort on my part, they produce beautiful rich black gold to add to the soil. What I find intimidating currently is thinking and planning for my garden next year. So many choices!

  64. Julia B. says

    I’m inspired by watching my one year old eat. I want to eat like she does and I want to start a small garden to show her where her favorite green beans come from. I’m intimidated by the idea of gardening with the responsibilities of my little family, working, and keeping everything going.
    I’m intimidated by growing tomatoes in Seattle, and intrigued/daunted by beekeeping. (I think I’ve checked out six books from the library about bees in the last six months. They’re just so cool!)

  65. Judy eddy says

    I love gardening, but hesitate to have animals. Afraid I won’t have enough time for them. But every post I read gives me hope .

  66. Amanda Wilson says

    The most inspiring is the feeling of surprise and joy when those first little sprouts pop up and then day by day turn into something delicious and beautiful … or not. Last year was our first year with raised beds, and every time we planted something new it felt so inspiring and exciting to see it start to grow – and then intimidating when it abruptly failed for a reason we couldn’t detect. Soil? Water? Temperature? Disease? There are so many different things to learn about and consider in a successful garden. But the feeling of seeing those little sprouts popping out of the ground keeps us coming back for more! I also find powdery mildew and aphids to be incredibly intimidating, even when armed with soapy water.

  67. says

    The activity I find most inspiring is gardening. I have a greenhouse that I’m just starting to use and success has come pretty easily. There’s so much to learn but you can learn and experiment as you go, and get more knowledge under your belt every season.

    I find bees to be the most intimidating because I know very little and don’t personally know anyone who keeps them… but I’m jumping in headfirst this spring anyway!

  68. PJ Larsen says

    My passion is helping folks turn lawn into gardens and planing edibles in the landscape. Small steps for folks that don’t know how to start growing food.
    I love the idea of animals but am intimidated by the time commitment, not just in the daily and weekly needs but the yearly needs. Also as a meat eater I know this makes me a hypocrite but I don’t want to slaughter my own animals.

  69. Oreet says

    Inspiring: Seedstarting – watching a tiny little nub of dried nothing emerge from the soil as a sprout, become a plant, grow in the garden, and result in pounds and pounds of tasty produce in my freezer!

    Intimidating: Expanding – we have about 3/4 acre on the ‘back 40′ that is 45 degree weedy slope full of frolicking gophers / ground squirrels and has no irrigation. I want to start up a food forest, or at least an orchard (the best time to plant a tree is 8 years ago – right), but the job is so big I can’t seem to get it started! Our current garden is seven 4′ x 4′ raised beds armored with hardware cloth below, so the expansion is a major move forward.

  70. Tasha says

    For some reason Brassicas really intimidate me (probably because I haven’t been successful with them yet!) but raising pigs (humanely and respectfully) really stokes my fire! Having a freezer full of meat is a good thing,

  71. Deborah says

    Inspiring – growing new things. It always seems like magic to me.
    Intimidating – maintaining my focus in the garden over the long haul.

  72. Tanya m says

    The most inspiring for me is having the space to try new things. My 5yr old son gets to help out in the everyday and harvesting. He gets to experience things I never did as a kid. All while being in the heart ofa large city. I don’t know what I Would do without my garden now.

  73. Natalie says

    I’m most inspired by fresh new compost that I made because it always feels like the foundation for a solid new beginning. I’m completely intimidated by the challenge of creating a garden with good soil from scratch with my meager $40 per year budget! I’ve gotten creative by doing things like using nettle “tea” as fertilizer and saving all my coffee grounds for mulch. Still, every new pest to contend with and my hope for a garden expansion is a challenge to navigate without spending money.

  74. Rachel says

    The book sounds awesome. Thanks for the opportunity to win one. Fruit trees inspire me (I may have an addiction–can you ever have enough?). I love to smell their blooms, watch them grow and of course enjoy their fruit. Also, the way my 4 year daughter looks at our garden, food and in general life itself is inspirational. We’re working on building courage to have backyard chickens–but this is a bit intimidating. Hopefully we’ll be ready this spring. I love fresh eggs from chicken that are loved.

  75. says

    I am inspired by those who really garden like they mean it and use up everything they grow. In that same vein, I am intimidated by crops awaiting harvest or processing when I’m not making the time to deal with them (too often!).

  76. Janet says

    I think your photo looks great!

    Inspiring – nibbling fresh fruit and veggies while I weed.

    Intimidating – anything requiring wood, saws, hammer and nails.

  77. says

    I’m inspired by the rebels in the gardening community. Those people who fight the system and win be logic and tenacity. I’m intimidated by bees and hives but I will overcome them, since I don’t have enough pollination going on in my area.

  78. Magdalena says

    I am inspired by younger people learning about, and loving the land. I watch how the excitement illuminates my grandchildren as they page through my tattered seed catalogs to plan their next-years gardens.It gives me hope. There is a passion that grows along with a garden, and I find such beauty surrounding every plant I grow. My Father owned a nursery and he always told me, “plants are like people, they feed my soul”. I add that nourishment for my body follows. Gardening…it’s so therapeutic.

    I am intimidated by the thought that this aging body may not be able to sustain the process required to complete the task of gardening. However, The cycle of life is so beautiful…Perhaps my children and grandchildren will continue on being good stewards of the land.

  79. Khanh says

    I’ve been really inspired by a neighbor who started raising her own hens, I would love to do the same. The thought of having a bee hive sounds intimidating, even though I would love to harvest honey and help with the bee situation.

  80. sarina says

    I guess I’m simultaneously most inspired and intimidated by people who are just – organized. They get their seeds started on time, they water on a regular schedule, they get new beds dug and compost started right when needed, and everything is integrated. Meanwhile, I’m all over the place, bungling just about everything. Thank god chickens are so easy-going.

  81. Sena C says

    I am inspired by the amount of food I grew out of straw bales, and look forward to the spring for an earlier plant. I am intimidated by companion planting…..There are so many sites that I can look up or print out, but it always seems as if I inadvertantly plant two antagonistic plants together.

  82. says

    I am inspired by working with children in the garden. They remind me that it’s not just hard work, but that it’s also fun and exciting to see things grow and to to nurture veggie plants to ripeness. I am intimidated by larger animals. Chickens I can handle, but I’m not ready for larger birds or goats/pigs. I have a (very unlikely) dream of the neighbor between my house and the next “homestead” over will sell us his property for super cheap and we can knock down the house and build a 3-lot farm on our block. Oh to dream!

  83. Lori Cochran says

    I am inspired the network of local organic/and sorta organic farms and chicken and goat folks, right in my neighborhood! I also love to see my soil improve thanks to NW Edible share of BacktoEden.org video. I am most intimidated about state and fed laws effecting how we all raise our own food and sell the extra. Its very scary to me, an old farmer/ranchers daughter who just wants to get back to her roots. My budget also intimidates me in efforts to add all the animals I would like, ie. chickens, ducks, goats (meat and milk) and a cow or two and a horse or two. If you can’t afford to feed em ya can’t get em. Yet.

  84. Judiths says

    I’m most inspired by community gardens and food forests. I don’t see why we don’t hae they all over every city. Most inspired by that town in England where all the empty little plots are covered with food gardens and free for the picking.

    Most intimidated by building things! Need to get over it and make some hoop houses, a chicken coop, and possibly rabbit hutches. Also intimidated by the HOA rules in my neighborhood, otherwise I’d have goats.

  85. says

    Saving seeds is inspirational to me. I spend hours pouring over seed catalogs; there is something so exciting about trying new varieties and passing them on. The last two years I’ve been saving seeds, and everyone who comes to visit us goes home with little baggies of seeds. :) I’m going to be such the crazy lady by the time I get toward the end of life. Most intimidating is preserving food. Canning. I have yet to successfully can a batch of anything. Next year!?

  86. says

    Inspired by the amazing rewardingness that is building soil and letting plants wildly propagate themselves in it, whether I help them out or not. Intimidated by livestock medicine of all kinds (mystery chicken deaths, egg binding, and how to keep the rats off the chicken feed).

  87. Sarah says

    I’m inspired by how urban gardening can unify a community, in any economic bracket, by empowering people to grow their own food and at the same time, bring beauty to their lives.

    I’m intimidated by the mysteries and problems that arise when growing plants for food. How to safely eliminate a pest or figure out why a plant is growing but not producing any food…

  88. Barb says

    I’m inspired by your website and seeing that it can be done! Inspired by the idea of my kids eating vegetables right out of the garden and pulling eggs out of the nest for breakfast. We’re building our coop and raised beds this winter and I’m inspired and intimidated at the same time. Intimidated mostly by the amount of work that will be involved…am I overestimating, underestimating?? Intimidated by the crazy busy life we already lead (two working parents and two boys in sports year round) and hoping that I’m able to find the time to make this work for our family.

  89. Sara M says

    I love growing our own herbs and much if our produce! Still too nervous to have beehives although sure would be pleased with the honey.

  90. Jane says

    Urban Homesteading: the whole idea of growing food in an urban setting is both inspiring and intimidating. (I’m inspired by the creativity and dedication of urban farmers. Having grown up and lived in a rural my whole life, I’m intimidated by farming when space is a premium.

    I’d love to learn more.

  91. says

    What a terrific book – thanks for the chance to win it! The most inspiring thing for me is watching the seeds sprout when I first plant for the spring garden. It’s a promise to me from Mother Earth that I am fully supported and provided for! The most intimidating thing is an orchard. I haven’t yet planted any fruiting trees because, well it intimidates me, LOL!

  92. Gina says

    I find the challenges of alpine gardening inspiring. A short growing season and wildlife makes one have to come up with new ways to do things. What I find most intimidating is introducing new foods to my garden, will they thrive?

  93. Carolyne Thrasher says

    What I find most inspiring is how the home garden movement can change and influence culture. It causes one to turn from seeing themselves as a Consumer to seeing themselves as a Producer. I hope that this movement will continue to grow because the implication for that paradigm shift for our country is huge! I’m very intimidated by bees but am hoping within the next 2 years to add this to my .42 acre city farm.

  94. Jen says

    Would I could just “like” some of the comments above on “inspiring”. Pulling a still warm egg from the box is magical, every time. I’m inspired by those that manage to incorporate all the elements into a homestead. Its daunting to consider how to keep a year round garden & hens, preserve the abundance and incorporate it all into our lifestyle, while maintaining the everyday appreciation of the blessing.

  95. Kay says

    I am inspired by the knowledge that I only need step out the kitchen door to bring in fresh meals and future meals (canned, frozen, dehydrated), but I am daunted by all the work I have created for myself!