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Book Reviews

SMALL FARM SUCCESS AUSTRALIA: HOW TO MAKE A LIFE AND A LIVING ON THE LAND

by Andrew Campbell and Anna Featherstone (Capeable Publishing 2018)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

This book is for anyone thinking about giving up their day job and taking the step towards making a living as a farmer. Andrew Campbell and Anna Featherstone left the city ten years ago and did just that. They moved to the country and bought their own farm that they live off today.

This book is a guide to the ins and outs of running a farm as a business and making it work. With lots of practical advice from choosing your farm, planning, value adding, right through to marketing, this book will help you navigate the complexities of farming as a business.

There are interviews with 25 farmers from across Australia, all sharing their stories and insights. So whether you are just dreaming of taking the plunge or are already doing it, take a look through this book to see if it’s the right thing for you.

STICKY FINGERS GREEN THUMB

By Hayley McKee (Hardie Grant 2018)

Review by Samantha Allemann

You might already be incorporating vegies into your baked goods—grating zucchini into a chocolate cake, using beetroot to colour icing sugar, hiding parsnip under cream cheese frosting. Self-taught baker Hayley McKee takes this to the next level, whipping up stunning cakes and sweet snacks that use a wide variety of different vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.

This beautiful book will leave you salivating onto the pages as you decide between making a golden saffron pumpkin cake, hibiscus and cherry brownies with coconut caramel, a rhubarb, basil and oatmeal slice, sweet potato rugelach, or carrot and grapefruit curd tarts, to name just a few. Give the six-tier beetroot and rose truffle cake a go if you’re feeling adventurous!

Like all good baking books, it has clear instructions, tasting notes, tips and gorgeous photos. Most of the recipes come with gardening tips as well, to inspire you to grow some of your ingredients rather than just picking them up at the shop along with the sugar and flour.

MADE TO LAST

By Vanessa Murray (Hardie Grant 2017)

Review by Samantha Allemann

This book is a collection of artisan trades and projects from around the world. Whether they are toolmakers, ceramicists, welders, taxidermists or coppersmiths, what all of these artisans have in common is their passion for making durable products. Written by Melbourne-based writer Vanessa Walker, many of the book’s interviewees are Australian, such as chairmaker Glen Rundell, bladesmith Iain Hamilton and rocking horse maker Olivia O’Connor.

In addition to the interviews, there’s a DIY component to each story so that you can try them out as well. There are practical skills to learn, such as how to make a copper snail coil, start the perfect fire and make your shoes last as long as possible, and the tasty ones, where you’ll brew fire cider and make chorizo. And then there are the skills which probably never crossed your mind that you might need, but now that you think about it, yes, you do really want to know how to preserve a bird’s wing and make a colourful splatter vinyl record.

Whether you’re wanting some handy tips to help you become more practical or just want to peek into the world of these crafty folk, Made To Last makes for an entertaining read.

THE SECRET LIFE OF YOUR MICROBIOME

Susan L. Prescott, MD, PhD and Alan C. Logan, ND (New Society Publishers 2017)

Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

The Secret Life of your Microbiome examines the effect our modern lifestyles are having on our health and wellbeing. The authors present scientific evidence in an accessible way that connects the health of our microbiome with our own health and happiness. They show that the health of our microbiome is directly affected by the level of connection we have with the biodiversity in nature.

In modern society we are spending more time on screens and being stationary inside. We are missing out on time in nature where we have direct connection with the biodiversity that is essential for life, not only outside our bodies but within our bodies too.

This book presents clear evidence that will make many of us question our current lifestyles and make changes that will improve our health in the future.

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