Urban Farmer, Author Manny Howard to Visit

Urban farmer Manny Howard, the author of the recent novel My Empire of Dirt, will be in Pfahler Auditorium on Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m. Howard is an accomplished magazine writer who has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Food & Wine, Travel and Leisure, Rolling Stone, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications, and recently was a guest on The Colbert Report.

My Empire of Dirt is an account of how Howard decided to build a farm in his backyard as a way to test how “local” he could go while living in an urban environment. In line with the recent movement to eat as locally as possible as a way to reduce the impact that transporting food has on our environment, Howard figured that his backyard would be as local as he could get. He calls the local movement a way “to save our planet and redeem our twinkie-gorged souls.”

Howard’s book is full of wry observations and tales of the miscues that one might expect from a city boy who had never farmed in his life. The narrative includes the harrowing intrusion of a rare Brooklyn tornado that destroyed his crops, the accidental severing of half of Howard’s little finger, and the battle with a hen that would eat her own eggs before Howard had a chance to retrieve them. These difficulties, Howard says, are just a testament to the challenges of eating local, which he calls “a willful abstinence from convenience and plenty.”

A book signing will follow the event, and books will be available for purchase. –David Hysek 2011