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From the Ground Up

A Food Grower's Education in Life, Love, and the Movement That's Changing the Nation

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


An inspiring story for everyone who’s ever dreamed of growing the food they eat
When Jeanne Nolan, a teenager in search of a less materialistic, more authentic existence, left Chicago in 1987 to join a communal farm, she had no idea that her decades-long journey would lead her to the heart of a movement that is currently changing our nation’s relationship to food. Now a leader in the sustainable food movement, Nolan shares her story in From the Ground Up, helping us understand the benefits of organic gardening—for the environment, our health, our wallets, our families, and our communities. The great news, as Nolan shows us, is that it has never been easier to grow the vegetables we eat, whether on our rooftops, in our backyards, in our school yards, or on our fire escapes.
From the Ground Up chronicles Nolan’s journey as she returned seventeen years later, disillusioned with communal life, to her parents’ suburban home on the North Shore as a single mother with few marketable skills. Her mother suggested she plant a vegetable garden in their yard, and it grew so abundantly that she established a small business planting organic gardens in suburban yards. She was then asked to create an organic farm for children at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, and she soon began installing gardens around the city—on a restaurant’s rooftop, in school yards, and for nonprofit organizations. Not only did she realize that practically anyone anywhere could grow vegetables on a small scale but she learned a greater lesson as well: rather than turn her back on mainstream society, she could make a difference in the world. The answer she was searching for was no further than her own backyard.  
In this moving and inspiring account, which combines her fascinating personal journey with the knowledge she gained along the way, Nolan helps us understand the importance of planting and eating organically—both for our health and for the environment—and provides practical tips for growing our food. With the message that we can create utopias in our very own backyards and rooftops, From the Ground Up can inspire each of us to reassess our relationship to the food we eat.

Praise for From the Ground Up
“One of the most intelligent, surprising and impressive garden memoirs I’ve read in a long time . . . radiant with hope and love.”The New York Times Book Review

“The joy of From the Ground Up is not Nolan’s own happy ending but rather the illuminating way she applies her vision to practical problems. . . . The hardest memoir to write is the one that is honest but not self-obsessed; Nolan accomplishes this with clarity and poise.”—Jane Smiley, Harper’s

“[A] rare and improbable thing: a gripping gardening memoir . . . [Nolan’s] voice is an honest and reassuring one.”Chicago Reader

“[A] refreshing narrative . . . From the Ground Up triumphs the backyard micro-garden as it imparts lessons from Nolan’s life about family. . . . The book is a good read for foodies and lovers of a good story alike, and an inspiration to garden wherever you can find space.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star

From the Ground Up resonates powerfully with me, as a gardener, and inspires me to ‘double dig’ my garden bed. But even readers who keep their fingernails clean will benefit from this beautiful story and powerful message.”—Sophia Siskel, president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

May 06, 2013 – Following a restless childhood and adolescence in the affluent Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Nolan and her boyfriend set off for the Southwest as soon as she graduated from high school in 1987, ultimately landing at the Zendik Farm, a hippie commune. Nolan spent over a decade in this idiosyncratically controlled environment in which free love was encouraged, but close relationships weren t. She and her young daughter (whom she had with a friend at the commune) ultimately left the nomadic commune, returning home to live with her parents and to nurse her wounds and figure out her next steps. Realizing that her organic gardening skills could be useful, Nolan established the Organic Gardner, a company whose aim is to teach clients how to grow organic vegetables in their own gardens. The concept caught on, and she soon found herself with a rapidly growing company. The narrative thread about her experiences as an organic entrepreneur is told in conjunction with the stories of her courtship with a fellow Zendik resident whom she eventually married, her creation of the 5,000 sq. ft. Edible Gardens at Chicago s Lincoln Park Zoo, and her efforts to repair her fractured relationship with her immediate family. These episodes, along with flashbacks to the commune, make for a disjointed read, but Nolan s enthusiasm for bettering the world is charming and infectious.

Customer Reviews

From the Ground Up

I enjoyed reading Jeanne Nolan's compelling and educational story. It was uplifting, educational and inspirational. Whether you are a gardener or farmer, you will get a lot out of reading this book.

From the Ground Up
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  • $6.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: Jul 16, 2013
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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