The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans

Patricia Klindienst, Author Beacon Press (MA) $26.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-8070-8562-2
Though Klindienst imposes a strong philosophical structure on the narratives in this poetic collection, her political interpretations come second to the beauty and humor in what is essentially a set of portraits of both American gardens and gardeners. Woven into these stories are wide-ranging details of agricultural history: how to make blue corn piki bread, how the injustice of post-emancipation land sales affected one farmer, the fragrance of the sweet-sticky-pumpkin flower brought by refugees from Cambodia. Klindienst's writing shines when recounting her conversations with farmers, but her analysis of ""hunger for community"" and how a ""garden can be a powerful expression of resistance"" feels awkward. Luckily, between the prologue and the epilogue, Klindienst provides an unpretentious and touching tour of the increasingly rare corners of the country where land is worked by friendly locals who know the differences between five types of basil and can jaw for hours about plants, soil and the weather: ""Oh golly let me see. It would be the bush beans,"" says one woman when asked about the type of seed she's been saving the longest (70 years, in this case). This book's broad scope touches on the best of nature writing, singing the rhythm of growth in both plants and people.
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Ebook - 277 pages - 978-0-8070-8566-0
Paperback - 246 pages - 978-0-8070-8571-4
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