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Growing a Farmer

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  810 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews

"Charming . . . . [Kurt Timmermeister] narrates his personal journey with an open, straightforward spirit." —Wall Street Journal

When he purchased four acres of land on Vashon Island, Kurt Timmermeister was only looking for an affordable home near the restaurants he ran in Seattle. But as he slowly settled into his new property, he became awakened to the connection between
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published (first published December 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Alisa Kester
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am so conflicted on how many stars to give this. Do I add stars for what I liked - good writing, awesome descriptive passages of living off the land, and just the sort of detail I like? Or do I take off ALL the stars for the parts of his book I hate? Which, basically comes down to me disliking *him*. He comes across as so arrogant (anyone who doesn't share his political views is a dumb hick), and his 'care' for his animals is deeply troubling.

His is supposed to be a life where he is distancin
May 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love the subject matter but I don't love how Timmermeister wrote it down. I keep expecting editors to come in and help some of these authors a little more. Kurt Timmermeister is a restaurant owner and chef who buys some land on Vashon Island and slowing becomes more of a farmer until he quits the restaurant business entirely. It's so interesting to think about raising your own food, honeybees, chickens, goats, orchards, vegetable gardens, herbs, etc... Living off the land is appealing in some ...more
This is more of a "how not to" than a "how to." The author apparently manages his entire farming career by making impulse decisions without enough research, and then throwing money at the problem until it more-or-less goes away. He orders 130 apple trees for his would-be cider orchard; deer eat most of them because he didn't bother to take any measures to deter them. He orders a bunch more! Deer eat most of the new ones, too. Eventually a few of the overlooked ones get big enough to no longer lo ...more
Jul 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. I am passionate about the subject matter and run a small farm myself. He lost me when he so casually talked about letting his beehive die off in the winter. A new box is only $75 he said, I consider my beehives part of my livestock and would NEVER willingly let one die over winter. It seems he robs them of honey and then just lets them starve, how nice! The book as others have mentioned is random and chaotic.

A good linear book about farming and living off the land is
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While Timmermeister's successful organic farm is admirable, the writing was purely objective and became dry due to no revelations of how his efforts impacted his personal life. A life consisting of only farming equates to dry soil.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had very mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed Timmermeister's writing style-- it had a very lulling, soothing tone to it. But it did tend to put me to sleep. So that might not be high praise.

I found many of his stories of his farm to be absolutely fascinating, but so often he would come to the wrong conclusions from these experiences. For example, he talks at length about how he couldn't live in Eastern Washington, because the people there are hicks and would never accept him. (Sounds mor
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
what he did was interesting: starting a farm from scratch here in the Pacific Northwest. His writing is good. His social commentary, infusion of liberal politics (whether genuine or playing to the target demographic) and cognitive dissonance were annoying and difficult to rectify.

An example of the cognitive dissonance: taking multiple pages to "justify" beekeeping (as if such justification is required) such that we can take their honey as we provide for their well being - only to say in the next
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not too bad of a read, being interested in small scale farming/self sustainability, but, the author contradicts himself in many places, is redundant, and the publishers missed a bunch of typos. All in all, an okay book, but nothing to write home about.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt this book was informative and inspiring. As someone who is moving towards buying small acreage, who is not a vegitarian, and who is not a stickler about being "organic", I appreciated this book a lot.

A few things if you are thinking of reading this book:

This book is organized by subject matter, not chronologically. I actually preferred that format. If I want to reference back to a section in the book, it will be easy to do.

The author is open and honest about the choices he has made and
I really wanted to like this and was enjoying it up until the point – Chapter 3 – where Kurt starts describing his beekeeping endeavors. Not knowing what you’re doing/getting into with the bees is pretty common – people get enthusiastic about becoming hobbyists and then things happen. And if Kurt had said that he still didn’t know much about bees, I would have been fine with that, but he proceeds to “educate” his readers on what he does know and he’s wrong about some very basic bee biology/life ...more
Definitely an interesting read. Some parts provided a little more information than I really needed and he seemed to repeat himself or ramble a bit, however he's not primarily a writer and I definitely gained new insight from the book. I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in local food, from meat to cheese/milk, to vegetables.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a relief to finish this book. What started as an interesting story of how a city dwelling restaurant owner began a small farm, turned in to a long-winded boring book.

For the most part the author comes off as delusionally judgmental. According to Kurt anyone who takes honey from bees without caring for them is a "thief", but he isn't interested in finding out why his bees die every year. In fact he loves getting new hives each spring. (There is a bee crisis in the world but you are content
Tamara Bell
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing

I found this incredibly interesting on how over time the author grew and changed as he purchased the land, then began becoming responsible for its success, and continued until he felt he was the steward of said land. Beyond that the stories of his successes and failures were quite entertaining.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small self-sufficient farm was not Timmermeister's goal twenty years ago when he bought the plot that would become Kurtwood Farms. He was a successful Seattle chef with a growing restaurant (given that he specialized in pastries and kept bees on the roof, I can't help but picture the Pie Hole from Pushing Daisies). He bought the original 4 acres simply because as soon as he could afford a house he wanted to get the hell out of his studio apartment. But even twenty years ago the price of Seattl ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
This book is Timmermeister's account of his transition from a restauranteur who kind of plays around with producing his own food to a full-fledged, leaning-toward-self-sufficient farmer. He purposefully attempts to de-romanticize his story, even though it is clear that he began his journey as a starry-eyed city guy longing for the slower, stress-free bucolic life.

Timmermeister takes a practical, rather than ideological, approach to food. He likes good food, and generally that means as fresh as
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kurt Timmermeister was born in Seattle in 1962. At age 24, he opened his first restaurant in downtown Seattle. It was very successful. Timmermeister expanded to a bigger restaurant, and decided to buy a house. In 1991, he bought one on a 4-acre lot on Vashon Island, an island half again as big as Manhattan with a population of 10,000 a ferry ride away from Seattle and Tacoma. Timmermeister started raising vegetables and keeping bees as a hobby, his main income coming from his restaurant. As he g ...more
Mar 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Growing a Farmer is the story of Kurt Timmermeister's journey from restauranteur to farmer. His journey, and the book, start from the scratch beginnings of buying a piece of abused land on Vashon Island outside of Seattle Washington. Throughout the book Timmermeister takes the reader on his personal journey into the world of the agrarian lifestyle, leaving little to the imagination, suggesting that the title of this book is appropriate. I believe that there are better written books on the subjec ...more
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book with so much information, knowledge, and wisdom of what it's like to be closer to the food we eat. Being a beginner at this "farming" business, which really means I am just a mediocre gardener who dreams of being a farmer, this helps me to continue forward on my path of living a more sustainable lifestyle but with a bit more wisdom under my belt that I achieved through reading of the successes and failures of another. Already as a gardener, I have learned of the tediousness requ ...more
Connie  Kuntz
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I was already intrigued by Seattle, but now it is Vashon, the island suburb of Seattle that I want to explore.

Timmermeister is a successful restaurateur-turned-farmer. He shares his journey beautifully. He is very well-read and cites many interesting books that helped shape his farming philosophy along the way. He is a very thoughtful and opinionated farmer which, in my opinion, is a winning, respectable combination.

I learned many fascinating "things" from his book. I will d
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erin by: Holley Duffy
A nice light-reading book.

What I took most from this book was two things. The first being the realization that my hobby farm dream/parts of my homesteading dream, is currently really pretty much only a pipe dream. After reaading about the author's struggles to get his farm started, and how nearly impossible it is to not lose money from it, I realize this is not feasible for me in the near future, and I need to table this dream - at least for now! I often bite off more than I can chew, and this
I had heard about Kurt Timmermeister previous to reading this memoir. A former restaurant owner, Timmermeister left Seattle and purchased 12 acres on Vashon Island, where he started a small farm. This memoir chronicles his experiences in getting started as a smaller farmer.

First, the author is clearly not primarily a writer. The book is a little dry, but I know he's primarily a farmer so I got over it. Ultimately, the book reads almost exactly like a transcript of a farm tour. If a farm tour sou
David Glad
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This can best be described as a book about following your passion, doing what you love, and living by your beliefs.

Nice evolution where Kurt goes from restaurateur to part-time farmer to full-time farmer and the somewhat amateurish mistakes along the way. (Such as thinking biggest is best when picking a John Deere for farm equipment or initially burning some trash using gasoline which seems cringe-worthy by modern sensitivities.) From there he grows various foods and raises various animals and e
Mary Kay
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir of a modern small farmer on Vashon Island who consciously turned away from city prosperity toward fulltime small farming is interesting, concrete, and offers useful information for anyone who has a little land available. He describes his journey through a variety of strategies to make a living from his 14 acres, starting with vegetable farming and finishing with cheese plus. His experiences demonstrate that it is more viable in our carnivorous society to rely on exploiting animal pro ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book and here is why. I literally dream of living off the land as much as I am able. (And lucky for me I am not like my pioneer ancestors that didn't have the luxury of Costco down the street in case I wasn't able to produce a stellar crop)
I love the story of this guy who had a restaurant in downtown Seattle and decided to purchase 12 acres on nearby Vashon Island and try to live like a modern day farmer by raising pigs, dairy cows, sheep, bees, orchards, and vegetable gardens. He des
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost didn't read this book because there is such a big pile of books to read on my nightstand. I liked how the author (not really the best writer in the world) described how he switched from running a successful restaurant in Seattle to buying and setting up a farm on about 9 acres on Vashon Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle. The memoir reads as if the author is talking to you, telling his story. As much as he researched farming, he basically learned by trial and error and from neighbo ...more
Renée Harger
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this book from the opening lines. A great, if very detailed, description of one person's adventure into taking some personal control over where their food comes from. The descriptions of how much work this venture is and how much the author loves it is like a test for anyone who wants to take on a similar venture. If you can identify with the author's descriptions and love of hard, repetitive work, spending lots of money and getting up at the break of dawn because the animals and ...more
Leonardo Etcheto
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wanna be farmers
Recommended to Leonardo by: WSJ
A lot of fun to read. Loved the overall premise, the tone and the style of the book. Loved that he has a bibliography in the back.
I can relate to having high hopes and ideals and then just muddling through to a workable solution. Author seems like a very practical and pleasant fellow, not much of a planner, but definitely a hard worker. He does a very good job of showing the work it takes to do the chores and the food preparation. He starts as such an incredible city slicker that he just has no
Clover White
I picked this book because I love small farms, and local eating, and stories about people learning a new career. This book has all of that, but it lacked a good editor. The story is not grouped chronologically, which made it very choppy. He also contradicts himself quite frequently. He starts one paragraph with the sentence "Pigs abhor electrical current, which makes them easy to confine." Three paragraphs later, his opening sentence is "Pigs are great escapers." Pigs won't eat pork; Mama pigs e ...more
Clark Hansen
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Clark by: Sarah F. McNamara
GROWING A FARMER by Kurt Timmermeister, is about a guy who grew up in the city (Seattle in his case), was interested in food from a baking, and later cooking, standpoint, opened and ran a series of restaurants, decided he wanted to grow his own vegetables, bought four acres on an island a short ferry-ride from Seattle, and slowly became an urban farmer, adding chickens, cows, and pigs, learning to make artisan cheeses (which sort of became his best cash "crop") and coming full circle to serve di ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I definitely found it inspirational and am planning for my own farm of the future. The few issues I had with the book:

1) The story is not linear for some reason. He separates the chapters by the subject (i.e., fruits and vegetables, dairy, pigs, fowl) instead of the exact order in which he acquired these animals/experience. Not a huge issue but I found it odd.

2) I don't know why this bugs me so much but after he acquires his first cow he mentions that he has not eve
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Kurt Timmermeister grew up in Seattle and was a successful restaurateur before moving to Vashon Island. There he transformed a rough patch of earth into Kurtwood Farms, presently a vibrant farm where he raises Jersey cows, produces farmstead cheese, and hosts weekly farm dinners composed entirely of ingredients from his tidy Vashon farm.
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“If I had planned this farm from the outset, it might have looked different, perhaps more deliberate. As it happened, the circuitous route of development gave this project a more 'organic' style of growth. Through successes and failures the farm took shape and now reflects my interests and skills, the nature of this soil and the climate here.” 1 likes
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