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The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year Paperback – March 15, 2011

101 customer reviews

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The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year + Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre + The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
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Editorial Reviews


"Finally, a book about local eating that doesn't make me feel bad about myself! Warren entirely avoids the genre's stinky mire of holier than thou preaching, and instead tells the honest and informative story of her edible experiment. The recipes following each chapter are tasty, and the illustrations are stunningly beautiful."
—Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

“Reading Spring Warren’s book is like chatting with a good friend over coffee as she relates her garden adventures (some hilarious) and muses on the meaning of almost everything. This is an instructive, useful book, based on sound garden experience and in-depth research, and it’s an intimate tale of one woman’s relationship to food and family.”
—Georgeanne Brennan, author of Potager: Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style and A Pig in Provence

“Spring Warren’s memoir of a year feeding her family from her suburban garden resonates with the American dream of self-sufficiency—what she comes to know of growing food is impressive, the recipes superb—and it is beautifully written, enlightening, and very funny.”
—John Lescroart, New York Times best-selling author

"A wise and tender-hearted book that will teach you as much about life as it will about gardening."
—Thrity Umrigar, best-selling author of The Space Between Us and The Weight of Heaven

About the Author

Spring Warren is the author of the novel Turpentine, a bronze medalist for the 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award and a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2007.

Warren comes from Wyoming, where here family has lived since 1870. A true gal of the American West, she grew up in Casper and at a ranch in the Black Hills that her parents still own. She’s been a schoolteacher (children bring cow testicles to school for show and tell in Wyoming), raised pigs, killed rattlesnakes, hunted, and fished. When she moved toward writing, she was a working as a short order cook, selling worms and maple bars to campers, and teaching swimming lessons in the shadow of Devil's Tower, and was living in a trailer where she washed clothes in a wringer washer and dried them by the heat of the wood stove.

Warren now lives in Davis, California, an educational hub of the agricultural world, in the Central Valley, the world’s most productive agricultural region.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580053408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580053402
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Spring Warren is a writer with a penchant for art, furniture-making and gardening. Her novel "Turpentine" came out with Grove Press. Her nonfiction book "The Quarter Acre Farm" was published by Seal. Spring resides in California but hails from Wyoming, where her family has lived since the 1870s. Visit her blog, The Quarter Acre Farm, at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Melonie K. on April 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed The Quarter-Acre Farm. I originally looked for it on Amazon because I saw a comment by the author, Spring Warren, on a Facebook post about the White House garden, where she mentioned her new book. Once I found it and saw several positive reviews, I decided to get my own copy. I had a horrible time deciding between buying the Kindle edition so I could have it RIGHT AWAY or the print version so I could see the illustrations other reviewers mentioned. I finally sprang for the print version and am glad to have done so - Spring Warren's storytelling is wonderful, but Jesse Pruet's pictures add a whole new level of fun and intrigue to the book.

As for my review title - Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the standard I hold a lot of "homesteading" books to. That book taught me SO much about so many subjects that it's an excellent yardstick for me. Kingsolver's book is highly educational, makes me think, makes me feel involved due to her tone, and offers recipes that are approachable and "doable" for folks like me who aren't going to become pro chefs any time soon.

Warren's format in The Quarter-Acre Farm is similar to the format of Kingsolver's book; a chapter full of personal stories and interesting insights and research, along with a recipe to top off each chapter. How did Warren bump Kingsolver from my top 3? With her humor. While Kingsolver shares some fantastic stories, Warren's tone is more approachable and less professorial. Even her chapter titles bring fun to the read: "Pole Dancing" (which gave me a chuckle but then taught me very important things via her pumpkin trellis experiment) - "Magical Fruit" (yes, that would be the beans, of course!
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Format: Paperback
I picked this memoir up on a whim, even though, as a very city-loving New Yorker, I have no intention of growing my own food. I was surprised and delighted by Warren's humorous voice, the way she walks readers through her adventures (and misadventures) in gardening, and the random, fascinating asides (such as the one about Santa's reindeer and psychotropic mushrooms). Her voice is engaging and she'll throw at you something that will certainly make you want to run out and eat your veggies, even if you haven't quite gotten around to growing them yourself. This is part cookbook, part primer on gardening, and part family memoir about why she decided to start the Quarter-Acre Farm and the lessons about gardening, nutrition, pesticides and more that she learned.

This is not a manifesto about why self-gardening is best and it doesn't wrap up uber-neatly, the way a lot of "I tried this for a year" memoirs do. Warren offers up practical tips and lessons on which vegetables thrived, which didn't, and why, and what she did with both the food and how she composted and tried various ways to increase her yield. The chapter where a "real" farmer comes and inspects her farm is especially interesting. I recommend this even if, like me, you have pretty much no thumb at all when it comes to gardening. Of course, if you do have an inclination toward growing even a small amount of your own food, you'll appreciate Warren's tips and especially her voice, but you don't have to have ever though about gardening or farming before to get a lot out of this book. The sheer respect Warren shows for the animals in her yard (geese!) and the plants and land she is using made me take a look at how easily I consume and dispose often prepackaged foods.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kelly VINE VOICE on March 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I LOVE this book!

Somehow this book manages to be an excellent "how to" guide, an extremely funny diary of the author's failures and successes, and a very readable instruction manual all at once. It will make you feel that producing some portion of your own food is an achievable and worthy goal no matter where you live. This book is just the encouragement and assistance that you've been looking for if you are dreaming of growing your own food on your own small lot/yard.

Above any practical value [though there is TONS of that], this book is the most entertaining and funny thing I've read in ages. Spring Warren has such a humorous perspective and such a clever way of looking at things, I really enjoyed reading what she had to say. I also enjoyed her indomitable spirit which comes through so clearly in this book. Even if you don't ever plan to grow a single thing in your yard, you might enjoy this book just as a really fun read.

I bought this book on a whim because I've been longing to transform my yard into something beautiful and practical [as in: something that feeds us!]. I am so happy that this was the book I chose - it was more than I ever expected. I have laughed out loud and been truly motivated to try this idea. I have learned more than I would have thought possible; all while reading a really great story. You can't ask for more than that from a book.

I agree with another review that says this book avoids all the preaching and chiding that other "environmentally friendly" book often contain - it sure does. The author teaches without preaching and entertains you the whole way.

Buy this book - you won't be sorry!
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