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Lorraine Johnson’s City Farmer – Adventures in Urban Food Growing coming on May 22, 2010


Michael Ableman says: “Vibrant and alive, a spirited journey to meet those who are rediscovering the economic, social, and healing power of growing food in the city.”

City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing
By Lorraine Johnson
Greystone Books
May 2010

The dedication in the book reads:
“For Michael Levenston, Canada’s unofficial minister of urban agriculture for more than thirty years.”

Excerpt from Chapter 10 ‘The Edible City’:

Surely we’re ready, in cities throughout North America, for civic actions that ignite our imaginations and engage the possibilities far beyond things like a single pilot-project planter. Here’s a modest list, a start:

Install community greenhouses in public parks, where people can grow seedlings for their yards and community garden plots.

Provide municipally run soil-testing programs, for people to quickly, easily, and affordably determine the health of their soil.

Post inventories of city-owned land available to the public for urban agriculture, to encourage people to “adopt” these spaces for food production.

Institute regular “giveaway” days of city compost in parks – with full disclosure of compost test results.

Establish city awards programs for front yard and boulevard food gardens.

Create city-sponsored harvest parties at public parks, where people can bring produce to share and trade.

Promote the idea of yard-sale days, where people with extra produce can set up tables in their front yards and sell (or give away) what they don’t need.

Provide horticulture desks in lobbies of city halls, where gardening groups can leave their literature and where gardening group volunteers can share information on food growing.

Organize surprising and quirky municipal plantings – pumpkins and watermelons, perhaps – on median strips or main street boulevards.

( … and 20 more suggestions listed.)

Resources include:

A selected list of Urban Farms and Edible Demonstration Gardens

A selected list of urban agriculture and food related organizations

(Note: This book is not about our organization, “City Farmer” – Mike.)

Lorraine Johnson – Author Bio

“Who’s the punk rock earth mother on the cover?” asked one reviewer, in the early 1990s, in response to the cover photo of Lorraine Johnson and Mark Cullen on their book about composting, The Real Dirt. Lorraine may have been wearing a Laura Ashley dress (under duress), and Mark may have been holding the pitchfork, but as the reviewer made clear, this was not your typical garden writer.

In the more than 15 years that Lorraine has been writing books and articles, she has become known for her unconventional outlook on the world of gardening. Advocating for organics in the days when synthetic chemicals ruled, writing about native plants before most people had heard the term, promoting community gardening when politicians were wary of involving people in parks, profiling guerrilla gardens when the idea still sounded vaguely dangerous, Lorraine has always written about marginal subjects on their way to becoming mainstream.

Not easily pigeon-holed, her work is often about the surprising corners where the impulse to nurture and sustain growth intersects with the human need to cultivate meaningful connections—with the earth and with each other. She views gardening as a strenuous conversation with the planet—indeed, as one of the most transformative ways to find our place in the world and what we want that world to be. She’s not afraid to include failures (her own, our own), along with hopes and dreams, in that conversation.

Lorraine’s writing career follows her passionate interests, and her more than 10 published books have covered a broad range of topics—from com- posting and native plant gardening to censorship and travel. Unabashedly an advocate, she has been promoting urban food production for decades not only in her writing but in her involvement with numerous community groups and organizations such as the Toronto Community Garden Network, Toronto Botanic Garden, the American Community Gardening Association, and others.
Lorraine lives in Toronto in a barn-shaped house with three chickens and two cats—and dreams of including a dwarf goat in her backyard.

Purchase the book here.


1 mkennedy15 { 05.02.10 at 1:15 am }

When will this book be available on Amazon USA?? International shipping charges are high…

2 Lorraine Johnson { 05.02.10 at 6:01 am }

The U.S. edition of the book will be published this fall.

3 Laurence LEFEVRE { 09.07.10 at 12:37 pm }

Dear Lorraine,

I’ve read several articles on city farming and I’m very interested in your new way of life. I would like to learn more about this “philosophy” and I would like to know how I could get your book. Moreover I’m a translator and I would like to translate your book into French so that your ideas could also reach France and give hints to our French gardeners.What would you think of this idea? I understood that your book hasn’t been translated yet. As I find the subject very opportunate and appropriate in our changing world translating your book would give me much pleasure and would be a passionating adventure.
I want to underline that I also like gardening and eating good produces. I am a “she translator” although my Christian name is Laurence, it is a Christian name for ladies in France.
I’m waiting for your answer hoping that you will answer.

Kind regards


4 maria muszynska { 10.13.10 at 6:05 am }

Lorraine, I have been following your work for years. I love your ideas. There are so many opportunities for us to do sensible things in this mad world, and you always seem to be doing them. Thank god for folks in this city like you, who ride bikes, raise chickens and grow food. A willing follower…

5 Linda Viduka { 11.19.10 at 4:08 pm }

Hi Lorraine,
My name is Linda Viduka and I am a college student who will be doing a presentation on your book ‘City Farmer.’ I am desperately trying to find photos of vegetables grown in the city that blend in with the urban landscape. That, or even vegetables planted on boulevards-like you talk about in your book. Do you have anywhere that you can direct me to in my search? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Linda Viduka

6 lbgoodell { 03.05.11 at 3:01 pm }

Lorraine, I picked up “City Farmer” at the library from the display of books the staff likes. I had already checked out so many items I didn’t want more, but I couldn’t resist sitting down to browse your book. I planned to read until I got drowsy. Ha-ha, that didn’t happen. I read the first two chapters and was completely taken with your writing style AND your message. I know you are a woman I would like to be acquainted with.
I have added your book to my must-read list. It’s as satisfying as eating vegetables fresh from the garden.

7 carolyn { 10.18.11 at 5:02 pm }

Congradulations on your new book. Could you be the same Lorraine from Willard Hall? If so, I would love to get back in touch with you. Carolyn Logan

8 Cheryl Bailey { 09.04.12 at 4:57 pm }

Can you tell me please whether the Virgin’s Bower sometimes does not have the ‘beard’ after blooming? I have a great deal of it , at least it sure looks like it, in one place growing from the edge of the woods out and overtop of bracken in my meadow. There is no beard. The plants that look the same nearer the wetter areas have the beard.
Thank you kindly. I love your 100 native plants book.

9 Nicole Scott { 10.15.12 at 6:28 am }

Awesome message. love it! I want to share with you which I think you would love. A way to grow your own food ….a great tool for your community and readers. reach out if you want to chat further!!

10 Bev. Silk { 11.09.12 at 8:45 am }

Due to your books on growing native plants, Grafton Horticultural Society has planted native plants in their Grafton Heritage Park. We’d be interested in having you as a speaker at one of our meetings. Can you contact me please.