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A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm Paperback – April 1, 1998


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A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm + Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico + The River in Winter: New and Selected Essays
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press; University of New Mexico paperbound ed edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826319602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826319609
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Unless you're a vampire, you know that garlic is a critical element in good eating. For most people, this knowledge comes from happy experience with garlic-laced cuisines (and what notable culinary tradition is without it?), not book learning, and not working the fields to produce the aromatic bulb. For Stanley Crawford, the love of garlic comes from both scientific study and three decades of labor in the field to produce the exquisite bulbs, knowing full well that "if you grow good garlic people will love you for it." Crawford deserves similar affection for Garlic Testament, a lyrical memoir of his work as a farmer in northern New Mexico, one that combines autobiography, gardening hints, and a quiet philosophy of life. "Farming and writing are both labors ... conducted on flat planes in relative solitude," he writes, but in this fine book--which compares well with the work of fellow farmer-writer Wendell Berry--Crawford opens his gate and invites our company. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

More than 20 years ago, Crawford ( Mayordomo ) and his wife Rosemary settled in a mountain valley an hour outside of Santa Fe. They made the adobe bricks with which they built a house and started both to raise a family and to work what is now a four-acre farm. While the author writes that they "were a little too old to be hippies, though we tried," the couple's turning to the land was a thoughtful, considered move. This elegant and unsentimental account of how Crawford learned to grow his principal crop, garlic, and what that process has revealed about himself and his place in the world is probing. An eloquent paean to physical effort and to the land he cares for and depends on, his chronicle is a treasure trove of planting lore, from the autumn planting of garlic cloves to the winter-long "hibernation," the sighting of first shoots in spring, the formation of seed stalks in early summer, the harvesting soon after, and the less satisfying process, to him, of selling his produce, including statice and squash, at farmers' markets in Santa Fe and Los Alamos. Crawford's keen observations, penned in well-hewn prose, are as reflectively nurtured and pungently powerful as his crop of choice.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tina M. Durham on October 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
When Henry David Thoreau left the comforts of civilization to build his own house with his own hands and deliberately live close to nature, his experience at Walden Pond became a classic in American literature. Even today, many of us trapped in the mundane horrors of urban life long to escape, as he did, to a small plot of land somewhere outside the realms of commerce, overcommercialization, and petty-minded consumerism.
Novelist Stanley Crawford had the courage to do more than dream about it. He left California for the rigorous, simple life of a New Mexico garlic farmer and, like Thoreau, has written a wise and thought-provoking book about his experiences. His account spans a year in the life of garlic, tying topics as diverse as the nuclear bomb and the challenge of maintaining community to the rhythms of building one's own house from adobe and learning to plant and harvest responsibly.
After closing the cover of this book, I was ready to drive to New Mexico and seek out Crawford in the Farmer's Market, to buy my own bulbs of top-setting garlic and somehow bring some of the beauty of his life into my own. I may never stand in Santa Fe behind his pickup, buying a woven garland of organic garlic to hang in my kitchen, or perhaps I will travel there and stammer some foolish words about his writing as I hand him a handful of crumbled dollar bills. In some sense, the physical journey has become irrelevant: Crawford's New Mexico has already illumined my heart and wakened me to the rhythms of my own life. I don't have the strength or the patience to tend a field or a garden, manufacture adobe or create a home, brick by brick. But I, too, have a place in the world, and eyes to see--A Garlic Testament is one of those books that wakes us from habitual slumber and reminds us, as Thoreau so aptly put it, to advance confidently in the directions of our dreams, and to put the foundations under our castles in the air.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Reading this book is like visiting the village of Dixon, NM, which has been Stan Crawford's home for many years. At first it doesn't look as if there's much of anything there: clusters of old adobe houses, small farms, a combination grocery/gas station, a few lowriders cruising the main drag, big old cottonwoods, willow thickets along the river, and fences festooned with Old Man's Beard. But if you stay a while and explore, you'll discover fascinating people, an amazing array of small businesses (from herbalists and food producers to weavers and fine jewelers), and a community lifestyle that hasn't entirely lost its connection with the rhythms of the seasons. Crawford is not only a dedicated farmer (and a pillar of the Santa Fe Farmer's Market), but a fine writer and a clear-eyed observer; the various chapters of the book present a vividly described, thoughtful picture of his life and his surroundings. I found the chapter on Los Alamos rather weak (it's just the usual "ain't bombs awful" arm-waving), but the rest of the book is an unmitigated pleasure. Forget the Hollywood version of New Mexico; this is the real thing.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed this book for several years and often suggest it to people wanting to grow garlic or sell at farmers' markets. It is an excellent resource, providing a first-hand experience in both garlic, small-scale farming, and direct marketing in an easy-to-read format. For people who enjoy plants, this book reads like a novel as we follow the author and his thoughts through the season. I find it quite representative of life on a small farm, with interesting philosophical perspectives on life, family values, farming, and relationship between the farm and the community. It is easy to identify with the grower and I eagerly looked forward to the next chapter. Each chapter captures the picture and thoughts of a particular time, yet the growth of the crop and its place in the larger picture provides continuity between chapters. Highly recommended and enjoyable. Technically accurate regarding garlic cultivation. Good insight into small-scale farming in New Mexico.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jerseymca on August 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best-written books that I have ever read. Each word is well-chosen, effective, and yet easy to read. At one point in the book, he alludes that he has written poetry previously. Each of the 39 chapters is a few pages long, presenting a brief essay on something related to garlic farming in New Mexico. There's an obvious love and care that he gives to his work (both garlic farming and writing), and he's able to show respect for others who have not chosen this path. The book also presents some information about how garlic is grown, but it's by no means a gardening book. It's a descriptive story of the cycles of the growing season. Like in his other excellent book, Mayordomo, the author also shares his community with us - talking about how farming, farmers markets, irrigation, and such intertwine a community, even one that contains members who originally went there to "get away from it all."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on April 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who enjoys whole foods cookery, herbal healing, and organic gardening will appreciate Crawford's observations. Those with a philosophical bent will appreciate them even more. His reflections on a life lived close to nature are a bit like those of Thoreau or Jefferson, but Crawford appears to also be very much the guy who brings fresh produce to your local farmer's market.
Few of us have probably given much thought to the growing of garlic bulbs, which really consist of "cloves" that can be divided and planted or used to season everything from marinara sauce to stir fries. You might have noticed the green sprouts that begin to emerge from cloves of garlic kept too long in your refrigerator, but Crawford suggests garlic plants are difficult to grow because their life course is different from that of many other plants. Garlics have adapted to life in stressful places where rainfall is not always forthcoming but when they need moisture, they need moisture. To avoid death, the bulbs spend a good part of the year "resting" or dormant. In a chapter called "Waiting" Crawford says that's exactly what the garlic farmer does. Much of the year, garlic like other bulbed plants are in hiding, and the farmer must be patient and wait until they are ready for the harvest.
But Crawford's interaction with plants isn't only about garlic. He relates how he "tasted the landscape" as a child in his native California-peeling and chewing the white pulp of anise growing by the side of the road in winter; sucked the syrup of nasturtiums, smelled the pepper tree berries, and searched the orchids for loquats, limes, and mandarin oranges. Today, children are not so fortunate. Pollution, chemicals, other noxious matter have made much of the landscape dangerous.
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