by Kurt Timmermeister

Norton & Company, $24.95, 335 pages

Seattle restaurateur Kurt Timmermeister didn’t know the difference between an ax and a splitting maul when he set out to buy a four-acre piece of land outside the city. Following his inclination to become a farmer, he walks us through his many endeavors from beekeeping to making cheese in Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land. As a result, we witness his marvelous transformation from a young optimist to the credible farmer he is today.

Great detail is given to the many facets of farming, including: keeping animals, dairying, and butchering. He even manages to produce such staples as honey and vinegar on his land. Throughout the book, Timmermeister remains forthcoming about his farm practices and why he stands behind them. Richly told, he conveys the satisfaction that comes from being self-sustained and overcoming the slew of variables that nature can bring.

This engaging memoir is akin to having a friendly encounter with a farmer over the fence. The sincere connection he feels for his land is touching and passes easily to the reader, instilling a fresh appreciation of how our food gets to our plate and leaves us all vying for a spot at his table.

Reviewed by Alicea Swett