Brooklyn Farmer's Sage Advice

Manny Howard Empire of dirt
Manny Howard Empire of dirt

Manny Howard is not your garden variety New Yorker.

Sure, everyone's got a dream that usually involves public recognition of some kind, a good seat on the train and something involving the Yankees winning another pennant -- but it doesn't usually involve becoming a farmer.

Howard, a Brooklyn-born writer and documentary maker, got assigned a story in 2007 that changed his life. His task: to create a sustainable farm in his Brooklyn backyard that he would live off of -- solely -- for a month. Now several years later, the farm is still producing and Howard recently wrote a book about the ongoing experience, "My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big-City Backyard Into a Farm."

Over a hundred years ago this area of New York used to be farmland and so Howard decided to see if Brooklyn still is fertile ground.

It is.

Howard discovered what he was made of, too. Lots of people talk about organic living and eating what is grown near you; he put this food movement to the test.

If he made a farm where grass couldn't live, you can create some sort of garden and add a decidedly country aspect to your city space, too. The city-dweller-turned-farmer shares some of his insights into urban farm living.

Originally published