Compelling evidence of major health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and outdoor interaction with `greenspace´ in urban areas has emerged over the past few decades – all of which combine to give major potential health benefits from `grow-your-own´. Stemming from this there have been dozens of local and national projects aimed at getting people growing some of their own food, with varying degrees of success.
Up until now each project has had to provide its own literature, often resulting in expensive and poorly-designed booklets. Green Books hopes to change that by providing a professionally produced book that is designed specifically for councils to give to their residents. How to Grown your Food: A guide for complete beginners by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert is a full-colour paperback that covers all the basics, but still has a very low unit price(dropping below £1 at 20,000 copies). The cover can be customised, as can the first two pages to allow the addition of information about the relevant council’s campaign, contact details and so on.
How to Grow your Food does not look like a council handout: it is a regular book which is widely available through online and High Street retailers. It’s full of appealing colour photographs which have been used to avoid daunting blocks of text, and the writing style is direct, unfussy and to the point. The authors have concentrated on a selection of fruit, vegetables and herbs that are simple to grow in very little space, such as on a sunny balcony. They have stayed clear of greenhouses and other expensive garden equipment – a wise decision, given that their target audience includes low income families.
Growing fruit and vegetables is a big subject, and squeezing even a selection of plants into such a small volume is no easy task. Happily the authors have done a good job of deciding what should go in, and what really had to be left out. For complete novices, this book is a helpful, unthreatening guide to their first few seasons as a gardener, whether they have a balcony, bare concrete, a patio or a larger patch of ground.