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LISTEN: The Growing Season in Your Apartment:C2C Talks to R. J. Ruppenthal

Author R. J. Ruppenthal explains how he got on the path that led him to write Fresh Food from Small Spaces—his sustainable growing, fermenting, and sprouting guide for urban dwellers—in this podcast from Crop to Cuisine.

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RJR: I was living in smaller homes—apartments and condos in urban areas—like a lot of people do. And somewhere along the line I got the idea that I wanted to grow a plant or two, and so I tried it in a sunny windowsill in an apartment, and, uh, wasn’t too successful at first. But I started reading up on growing vegetables, and I thought, well, that would be neat to have, you know, a few handfuls of something I could eat out of my own plants.

And then the next place that we lived had a bit of a balcony. And so I got some containers and filled them with good soil, and I started to grow some various vegetable plants on the balcony—including tomatoes, snap peas, beans, chard—and pretty soon the whole balcony was full and it was extending over into my neighbor’s area, so, uh, sort of ran out of space there.

But I realized along the way that I had sort of improvised some ways to make the most of the light that was pretty limited in that growing space, and that also there may be other possibilities for using urban spaces. And so next I got into sprouting—which is growing sprouts from seeds and eating them as salad or sandwich or stir-fry sprouts—and then fermentation, and some other things.

So I realized that people who are in my situation, having limited space, didn’t really have access to a lot of information about that. I had, you know, a whole bookshelf worth of gardening books and sustainable living guides and all this stuff, but it wasn’t really geared towards people in smaller homes. So that’s what I aimed to do with this book, was put together what I’d learned and what I could glean from other folks.


The Miracle of Farming: Toward a Bio-Abundant Future

Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer’s Le Ferme du Bec Hellouin is a celebrated model of innovative, ecological agriculture in Europe, connected to national and international organizations addressing food security, heralded by celebrity chefs as well as the Slow Food movement, and featured in the inspiring César and COLCOA award-winning documentary film, Demain (Tomorrow).In this excerpt from their […] Read More

Sow Seeds: Stop Walking Around Doing Nothing

“In the last one hundred years, 94 percent of seed varieties available at the turn of the century in America and considered a part of the human commons have been lost.”That’s one of the key takeaways in award-winning author and activist Janisse Ray’s book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. In her book, Ray […] Read More

True or false? Figs contain dead wasps

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are wish-fulfillers … rainforest royalty … more precious than gold. They are the fig trees, and they have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways. Gods, Wasps and Stranglers tells their amazing story.Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles […] Read More

Imagination, Purpose & Flexibility: Creating an Independent Farmstead – Q&A (part 1)

Twenty years ago, the land that authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty purchased and have come to name the Sow’s Ear was deemed “not suitable for agriculture” by the state of Ohio. Today, their family raises and grows 90% of their own food.Such self-sufficiency is largely the result of basing their farming practices around intensive pasture […] Read More

Eight Seed-Saving Myths

You don’t have to move to Svalbard, Norway in order to have access to a seed bank.Author and plant breeder Carol Deppe believes that every gardener should have her own seed bank. Even if you aren’t a seed saver, you should have your own seed bank. Even if you never experience any disaster beyond the […] Read More
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