by Zoe Pollock

Jessa Crispin wants to live the romantic European city life, but can't deny her crazy Kansas genes and the pressures to radically go off the grid. Two books help her find the middle ground:

Real life is glacial. But it does actually require you to start somewhere. I took comfort in The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen because it actually tells you how to start. They should sell these books packaged together. Once Radical Homemakers makes you suicidal, The Urban Homestead will show you what to do to put down the razor blades. It knows you probably don't have parents who own a farm you can go live on. It is more excited, less political. Like, look at all this fun stuff you can do: Build a garden, even in your window. Or go solar, or keep worms under your sink to help compost your food and make your potted herbs stop hating you so much. And it offers you this life in the city. Where they have opera. But you need both books. You need that deep unsettling, that panicked response, that moment when you say aloud to the book "Oh go fuck yourself," because otherwise it's not going to take.

I have my to-do list. It now involves worms. And maybe moving out of my apartment, now that I know having a place to at least grow a couple of food plants is important to me. It's going to be a long road, but halfway between here and that Kansan place.

As someone who used to keep a worm bin in the corner after my urban farming brother mailed them to me for Hanukkah, I can relate to Crispin's love of both worlds and trying to keep a foot in each. My boyfriend insisted we give the worms up at the new apartment, but alas, not before I got worm juice poured down my leg while transporting them to the new home of a friend. But still, worms are cool! They produced the most beautiful dirt I've ever seen in my life.

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