Book Review 016

My Empire of Dirt by Manny Howard

Book: My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard into a Farm

Author: Manny Howard

Summary: My Empire of Dirt is a cautionary tale of how Manny Howard took on an assignment from his agent to write an article about how he turned his suburban backyard into a farm and ate only what grew in it. Manny Howard is a writer who grew up in New York, now with his wife and two kids he sets out to produce enough food to feed him and his family for one month. He has little knowledge of the plant world and even less on creating an urban farm capable of producing that much food. But what he does have is a can do attitude. Starting with a backyard of nothing, layers of baked clay that is family barely spends any time in and barely conceived plans for what he has dubbed “The Farm” he sets out on an adventure that changes him and his family.

My Thoughts: With in the first few chapters of this book I was met with animal carnage and the prospect of “The Farm” hadn’t even been pitched. That’s when I knew this was going to be a good book. Howard has a way of writing that pulls you into his mind and convinces you that his half-baked plans and impulse way of doing things is the only way to go about these sort of things. Throughout the telling of how he transforms his backyard into The Farm he also gives you insight to how his family transforms and his reasons for continuing the project after every possible thing could go wrong. Admittedly he does go off on long tangents that seem at odds with the rest of the book, for instant there was a multi-page history lesson on the city mid way through the book. I’m still not sure how that plays in the grand scheme of the book and the story but history lessons aren’t all bad. I really enjoyed reading this candid story of starting an urban farm, and even though I have dreams of possibly doing the same thing in the future it made me realize how much there will be too. It’s something that changes you from the inside out; mind, body and soul. I recommend this book for anyone thinking of tackling even the smallest of urban farms, or thinking about getting a few chickens and planting a few veggies to help with food costs.