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It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life Paperback – Bargain Price, August 3, 2010
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"Keith Stewart’s essays afford a fine way ‘in’ to the compelling realities of life on a small organic farm in the twenty-first century. His writing is precise and evocative: immediacy bound with a strong meditative underpinning that is an enduring pleasure to read. Like all really good writing, it illuminates a great deal more than the subject at hand."
—Sally Schneider, syndicated columnist and author of A New Way to Cook
"Keith’s writing reads with the force and love of nature’s elements—strong, refreshing, beautiful, and true. It’s as fresh as his delicious carrots, and as poignant as his incomparable garlic!"
—Leslie McEachern, owner of the Angelica Kitchen, New York City
"Keith Stewart has been providing New Yorkers with magnificent vegetables for two decades. Now, as if to prove he can do anything, he provides all Americans with a compelling story about his own approach to farming. And at precisely the right moment, just as millions of people across the country are rediscovering the pleasure, and the importance, of eating close to home."
—Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home and The End of Nature
"To combat urban crowding, copies of It’s a Long Road to a Tomato should be airlifted into major cities. The captivating charm of organic farming, so deliciously described in Keith Stewart’s essays, would surely have hordes of city dwellers packing their bags. Stewart’s stories transport me into the precious and full life of an organic farmer. I more than appreciate it; I now feel part of it."
—Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception
"Keith Stewart opens this engaging book by transforming himself abruptly from midlife executive into novice organic farmer. The twenty years that follow on an upstate New York farm are sampled here in true-life tales that—without denying the sometimes harsh realities of the small producer’s life—leave the reader in no doubt of the joys that keep this small farmer on the land."
—Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life
"Ever dreamed of living on a farm or growing your own food? Here’s the clearest picture of what farm life really looks like. The romance of a pastoral life isn’t shattered by Stewart’s depiction of the gritty reality of farm life. They coexist, side by side, mirroring Stewart’s organic and integrated approach to farming. Stewart’s book is a gift to cooks. Now, each time I cook with food from a farmer I know, I have a deeper and clearer idea of what really goes into growing healthy and delicious food and why our farmers are heroes."
—Peter Hoffman, chef/owner of Savoy Restaurant, New York City
“[A] heartfelt chronicle, sobering and amusing by turn. Although focused on the particular, it transcends Keith’s Farm and illuminates exactly what it is that we are putting on our plates, whether we shop at Keith Stewart’s stand in the Union Square Greenmarket or at a farmers’ market elsewhere. It’s a delicious read—but what makes it an important one is that it has so enriched the ongoing conversation about food.”
—from the new foreword by Deborah Madison
Top Customer Reviews
I'm a cold-weather gal, so wishing for summer is not something I do often. But there is something very earthy and very appealing about Stewart's memoir of his organic farming life. (The fact that it is illustrated with woodcuts done by Stewart's wife, Flavia Bacarella, doesn't hurt-I love woodcuts. And how about that name? Seems like I could be earthy and appealing, too, if my name were "Flavia.")
It's an interesting book, with each chapter/essay offering a short perspective on the challenges facing small farmers of all types, as well as different aspects of rural life and farm marketing in New York City's Union Square Greenmarket. On my mental "gardening/rural life books" continuum, I liked it better than William Alexander's horrible The $64 Tomato, in which the author told about trying to kill an opossum in the most bungling and painful way possible; but did not like it as much as Michael Ableman's On Good Land, which seemed to be a bit more personable, or humorous, or something. But in the end I still enjoyed this one very much. I particularly liked its opening:
"Twenty years ago, a little past the age of forty, I was living in a small apartment in New York City, working as a project manager for a consulting firm, wearing a jacket and tie to the office every day. It didn't feel good. I had never aspired to be a member of the corporate world, but somehow that's where I had ended up. I had little affection for the work I was doing and seldom experienced any feelings of pride or fulfillment. Rather, I felt like an impostor, obliged to feign interest and enthusiasm much of the time...Today I am a farmer, a grower of organic vegetables and herbs, and can honestly say that I am a happier man." (pps. 1-2.)
Kind of gives one hope, doesn't it?
In one of the later chapters the author seems to be very amused that his free-ranging, adult, un-neutered dog has been breeding females on his travels. Well, duh. When his neighbor is upset about this, the author desparages them. Obviously, it is funny that his dog has been impregnating females and his neighbor is taking things far too seriously. Finally taking his adult dog in to be neutered(the dog had been in his "care" for some time) they discover that he has heartworm disease. The author explains that this is a disease roaming dogs are susceptible too. Yet, he hasn't ever thought of having the dog on heart worm preventative. Indeed, his dog hasn't been to a veterinarian during his stint at the farm. Oh, he did take him to a couple of those free rabies vaccination clinics. As an aside, those clinics are intended for low-income dog owners, not lazy people who don't value veterinary services.Read more ›
As we pull out of the driveway, the sky is full of stars and there's a new moon to the east cradling the old moon in its arms. At first light of dawn a hazy stillness lies over the land. There's hardly a vehicle on the road as we drive by fields of freshly mowed hay and shoulder-high corn. Shapes of cows loom on the crest of a dark hill. A red fox with an impressive bushy tail and determined gait crosses the road in front of us.
"Cradling the old moon in its arms": Stewart's writing is imbued with this kind of love for the land he works and the vegetables he harvests, as well as a keen understanding of the essential relation between the word and the natural world. I am reminded of Emerson's essay "Nature": "The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable..."
Reading "It's a Long Road to a Tomato," which includes "A Day at the Market," I discover that selling vegetables at the stand is the end of a long process of thought, labor, and dedication. Stewart takes us to his farm in Orange County, NY and reveals to us in each essay an aspect of farm life: the value of a good knife, the economics of maintaining a small organic farm, the importance of the sustainable farming community, the dance of the swallows nesting in the barn. I especially enjoyed the essays about the animals living on the farm.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It’s a Long Road to a Tomato, by Keith Stewart, has that rare quality of being very readable (even eloquent at times) and being chock-full of nuts and bolts information for all... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jeff Twine
If you want to understand a good bit about the daily life, the challenges of growing healthy vegetables, and the business and politics of organic farming this book is for you! Read morePublished 23 months ago by Dan Gibson
I'm not a farmer. But have romanticized the idea of living in the woods and growing my own food for a long time. Read morePublished on January 4, 2014 by James Lynch
The book said it was new but came with a ripped binding. Clearly a used book. I had to go to the bookstore and buy a NEW book for my father in law for Father's Day. Read morePublished on June 26, 2013 by Tara Bolash-Larsen
Great grass-roots ideas about farming in today's food culture. Loved the approach that Keith takes to the land, and especially loved the vignette stories about the animals, the... Read morePublished on July 27, 2011 by B. L. Gaukel
I cried when I read this book. Go figure!Hope Keith (whom we met at Union square market) has found a buyer who loves the land as much as he does. Read morePublished on April 21, 2011 by S. C. Story
A great read! A beautiful, sweet, real story about about a person who made their dream come true.Published on October 14, 2010 by Magnolia73
Having closely read Keith Stewart's book and several of its Amazon reviews, particularly those that criticize his treatment of animals, I'm left asking myself the following... Read morePublished on February 25, 2010 by Daniel Berry
I'm an avid reader of fiction and fact but I've never read a book I wish I hadn't... until now. I was expecting quaint heartwarming stories of the struggle to farm independently... Read morePublished on June 14, 2009 by Suz