An in-depth look at local, community-based agriculture.

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Fifteen people—plus a class of first graders—tell how local food, farms, and gardens changed their lives and their community...and how they can change yours, too. 

Growing a Garden City includes:

  • Fifteen first-person stories of personal and civic transformation from a range of individuals, including farmers and community garden members, a low-income senior and troubled teen, a foodie, a food bank officer, and many more
  • Seven in-depth “How It Works” sections on student farms, community gardens, community supported agriculture (CSA), community education, farm work therapy, community outreach, and more
  • Detailed information on dozens of additional resources from relevant books and websites to government programs and national non-profit organizations
  • Over 80 full-color photographs showing a diverse local food community at home, work, and play

Read Growing a Garden City to:

  • Learn how people like you, with busy lives like yours, can and do enjoy the many benefits of local food without having to become full-time organic farmers
  • Gain the information you need to organize or get involved in your own "growing community” anywhere across the country and around the world

Praise for Growing a Garden City

Fact & Fiction Top Titles of 2010

Booklist Top 10 Books on the Environment: 2011

Food Tank “Must Read”: Spring 2014

“The voices represented here are fresh, they are passionate, they are incredibly committed, and they are part of a movement that is healing our world one handful of seeds, one bucket of compost, one garden, one meal at a time.”

—Michael Ableman, founder of the Center For Urban Agriculture and author of Fields Of Plenty

“I love this book. It proves that every one of us, and every patch of soil, can make a difference. The way we connect with nature, with our food, and with each other can change the world.”

—Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace 

“This beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated book is full of engaging stories, practical advice, wisdom, and inspiration about one of the most hopeful phenomena in today’s world: the local food movement.”

—Daniel Kemmis, former Mayor of Missoula, Montana and author of The Good City and the Good Life

“Hooray for the good green thumbs of the Garden City. May their example continue to spread far and wide. We’ve never needed it more badly, or wanted it as much!”

—Bill McKibben, founder of and author of Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

“Bright, vibrant, and buoyantly accessible, this effervescent celebration of the local food movement thrums with regional, national, and international implications.”

Booklist (starred review)

“Needs, challenges and changes are recorded so that other communities can share the success of our community-based sustainable agriculture system. What better way to celebrate the harvest season!”


“Beautifully illustrated, full of practical ideas and inspiring stories, Growing a Garden City will not only show you how it can be done, it gives you hope for the future.”

—Davenport (Iowa) Public Library Staff Pick

“For newcomers to the local food movement, Growing a Garden City offers a simple, inviting overview. For those already in the trenches, the book will inspire when burnout seeps in. It belongs on the coffee table, in the classroom, and on the farm.”

—Farm Fresh North Carolina

“An important book. A heart-warming book. A hopeful book. So many people can relate to parts of the story. You don't realize all these other aspects of what community gardening in its broadest sense can be.”

—The Write Question

“Growing a Garden City is a Studs Terkel-like collection. In reading the book and listening to these voices, the idea of agriculture-supported community—‘a community bound…by local food and farming’—became clear.”


“At once a how-to manual and collection of personal narratives, Growing a Garden City will both inspire and teach anyone interested in food justice, food literacy, food security and community building.”

BioCycle Magazine

“Fantastic. Growing a Garden City literally made me gasp to see what one city has accomplished as an integrated urban agriculture prototype for the nation.”

—FoodShed Planet

“Provides an apt resource for any city looking for a meaningful food model and offers a powerful read about just how unifying community gardens can be.”

Missoula Independent 2010 “Best Read”

“Jeremy N. Smith shows how his town, and any place, anywhere, can find community through a new kind of interdependence: everyone relies on each other, everyone is necessary, everyone belongs.”

—Real Dirt Radio

“Smith busts myths: Local food is not too expensive, not too time-consuming, does not need a California climate, and it’s not elitist.”

The Montanan

“A delightful education on what can be accomplished for the common good.”

Montana Quarterly

“A get-started guide to transform your own town into a cornucopia of local foods. If you are a part of a local food movement, read this book.”

Zone 4

“This inspiring story contains handsome photographs that graphically illustrate the volunteer efforts of different segments of society.”

—Chicago Botanic Garden

“A wonderfully innovative project that has taken on a life of its own with multiple benefits.”

—Naturally Vibrant Living

“Shares stories and ideas on how to create smaller-scale neighborhood partnerships that connect you with your community, and keep you engaged.”

—Brooklyn Food Coalition

"Smith’s inspiring stories show how anyone can be a leader in their community, get their hands a little dirty, & produce the best possible ingredients for cooking.”

—SmartBlog on Restaurants

“Shows that growing your own food and sharing it with others has a great effect on the community.”

Salt Lake City Examiner

“A testimonial to the power and potential of the sustainable food systems movement to transform not just the lives of the Whole Foods set, but of a diverse group of people.”

—Left Eye on Books

“An uplifting look at people who’ve taken their food supply into their own hands.”

—Riffle Home and Garden