It’s a Long Road to a Tomato : Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life
Author(s): Keith Stewart
A new edition of longtime farmer Keith Stewart’s deeply personal and highly acclaimed book on the hows and whys of running a small organic farm in 21st century America—updated with five new essays, a foreword by Deborah Madison, and gorgeous new woodcuts by Flavia Bacarella
Keith Stewart, already in his early forties and discontent with New York’s corporate grind, moved upstate and started a one-man organic farm in 1986. Today, having surmounted the seemingly endless challenges to succeeding as an organic farmer, Keith employs seven to eight seasonal interns and provides 100 varieties of fresh produce to the shoppers and chefs who flock twice weekly, May to December, to his stand at Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan—the only place where his produce is sold. It’s a Long Road to a Tomato opens a window into the world of Keith’s Farm, with essays on Keith’s development as a farmer, the nuts and bolts of organic farming for an urban market, farm animals domestic and wild, and the political, social, and environmental issues relevant to agriculture today—and their impact on all of us.
"Keith Stewart’s essays afford a fine way ‘in’ to the compelling realities of life on a small organic farm in the twenty-first century. His writing is precise and evocative: immediacy bound with a strong meditative underpinning that is an enduring pleasure to read. Like all really good writing, it illuminates a great deal more than the subject at hand."
—Sally Schneider, syndicated columnist and author of A New Way to Cook
"Keith’s writing reads with the force and love of nature’s elements—strong, refreshing, beautiful, and true. It’s as fresh as his delicious carrots, and as poignant as his incomparable garlic!"
—Leslie McEachern, owner of the Angelica Kitchen, New York City
"Keith Stewart has been providing New Yorkers with magnificent vegetables for two decades. Now, as if to prove he can do anything, he provides all Americans with a compelling story about his own approach to farming. And at precisely the right moment, just as millions of people across the country are rediscovering the pleasure, and the importance, of eating close to home."
—Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home and The End of Nature
"To combat urban crowding, copies of It’s a Long Road to a Tomato should be airlifted into major cities. The captivating charm of organic farming, so deliciously described in Keith Stewart’s essays, would surely have hordes of city dwellers packing their bags. Stewart’s stories transport me into the precious and full life of an organic farmer. I more than appreciate it; I now feel part of it."
—Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception
"Keith Stewart opens this engaging book by transforming himself abruptly from midlife executive into novice organic farmer. The twenty years that follow on an upstate New York farm are sampled here in true-life tales that—without denying the sometimes harsh realities of the small producer’s life—leave the reader in no doubt of the joys that keep this small farmer on the land."
—Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life
"Ever dreamed of living on a farm or growing your own food? Here’s the clearest picture of what farm life really looks like. The romance of a pastoral life isn’t shattered by Stewart’s depiction of the gritty reality of farm life. They coexist, side by side, mirroring Stewart’s organic and integrated approach to farming. Stewart’s book is a gift to cooks. Now, each time I cook with food from a farmer I know, I have a deeper and clearer idea of what really goes into growing healthy and delicious food and why our farmers are heroes."
—Peter Hoffman, chef/owner of Savoy Restaurant, New York City
“[A] heartfelt chronicle, sobering and amusing by turn. Although focused on the particular, it transcends Keith’s Farm and illuminates exactly what it is that we are putting on our plates, whether we shop at Keith Stewart’s stand in the Union Square Greenmarket or at a farmers’ market elsewhere. It’s a delicious read—but what makes it an important one is that it has so enriched the ongoing conversation about food.”
—from the new foreword by Deborah Madison