Small Farms, Big Gardens, and Backyard Harvests

Greenville, Ohio, the home of Greenville Public Library and this literary journal, is a strongly agricultural community. Our rich soil and wide-open spaces make our county among the best in Ohio for crop production (in a 2007 agriculture census, Darke County was #1 in the state for total crop value). But growing fruits, vegetables, and other green foods isn’t just for big farms with millions of dollars in machinery. Almost anyone can get involved in growing healthy food to eat or sell, and GPL has books to help you get started.


Home In October, 2010, we added Abigail R. Gehring’s Homesteading (630.9 Homesteading) to our shelves. This updated edition of Gehring’s book is a complete guide to making your property as self-sustaining as it can be. In addition to extensive information on growing, harvesting, and preserving your own garden produce, the book also has chapters on responsibly raising small livestock like poultry, goats, bees, and others, building and maintaining small structures like sheds and birdhouses, generating energy to power your home, making a variety of practical projects and crafts like soap, candles, and baskets, and utilizing natural resources for wellness, such as herbal medicine and first aid. The book is extensively illustrated and includes recipes, step-by-step instructions for the included projects, and resource listings if you want more information on a specific topic.

UrbanDo you live in a town or city but still want to grow your own produce? Check out Kelly Wood’s Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff (630.917 Wood). This book is all about maximizing the spaces and resources you have available in a town or city environment. It covers most of the same topics as Homesteading, but with the understanding you don’t have acres of land available to you. Some sections cover how to make a variety of foods, cleaning materials, and toiletries from scratch using farmer’s market produce and supplies. There is a chapter on small backyard projects like compost piles and worm bins, and a small section dealing with the increasingly popular endeavor of raising urban chickens. An especially helpful portion of the book deals with creative ways to garden in limited spaces, both outdoor and indoor.  The book is colorfully illustrated and provides information for additional resources to learn more.

farmLet’s say you already grow your own produce from a large garden or small farm, and you do it so well there is more than your family, friends, and neighbors can eat. Brand new to GPL’s shelves is a book that can help you turn your garden into a business. Janet Hurst’s The Farm to Market Handbook: How to Create a Profitable Business from Your Small Farm (630.68 Hurst) is an excellent source of information for anyone looking to turn responsible produce into reliable profit. The book covers how to  start and manage a farmer’s market, selling your produce to restaurants, how to market your business in your community, how to get certified as an organic grower, and the basics of running a small business. The last quarter of the book contains extensive resources for getting started, including worksheets, information on state agriculture departments and farmer’s market associations, food storage guidelines, and more. If you are thinking about getting started selling produce you’ve grown yourself, this is the perfect book for you.


GPL also has a growing (no pun intended) seed library, from which individuals can take and deposit seeds within certain guidelines. We will feature more information here about this very cool resource soon, so be sure to check back often (or even better, subscribe!) to learn more.

Winter may seem like it’s dragging on forever, but Spring is just around the corner. Before long planting season will be upon us. In addition to the books listed above, GPL has hundreds of books on all types of gardening, so head on over to make sure you’re ready for growing season. You know where to find us – at the corner of Fourth & Sycamore.

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