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A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm

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From his New Mexico mountain home, award-winning author Stanley Crawford writes about growing garlic and selling it. "To dream a garden and then to plant it is an act of independence and even defiance to the greater world."--Stan Crawford


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From his New Mexico mountain home, award-winning author Stanley Crawford writes about growing garlic and selling it. "To dream a garden and then to plant it is an act of independence and even defiance to the greater world."--Stan Crawford

30 review for A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm

  1. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Approximately a year ago my copy of this book vanished from a chair in my own house, where I set it down while (fittingly) cooking. I was pretty upset. My particular copy came from a used bookstore in Albuquerque and is signed by the author. But these artifacts have a way of coming back to me, and eventually the book emerged out of the maze of things my eighty-year-old housemate had to leave behind when she moved. So one year later, I finished the thing, and I am so glad I did. Smart, lucid, prag Approximately a year ago my copy of this book vanished from a chair in my own house, where I set it down while (fittingly) cooking. I was pretty upset. My particular copy came from a used bookstore in Albuquerque and is signed by the author. But these artifacts have a way of coming back to me, and eventually the book emerged out of the maze of things my eighty-year-old housemate had to leave behind when she moved. So one year later, I finished the thing, and I am so glad I did. Smart, lucid, pragmatic--this is everything I wanted. Mr. Crawford describes the cycles of his life beautifully and without affectation. I felt at home. Reading Crawford reminded me of the kind of life I want. He reminds me why that kind of life is difficult, but why it's worth it, but why it's incredibly difficult, but why you have to shrug your shoulders at the end of the day and say it's worth it...because whether it's the land or a person or one particular crop plant, that is just the way love works.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Garlic farming as a subversive activity? Maybe. There is much more to this book than garlic lore. Stanley Crawford muses on the meaning of life, what makes it worthwhile and how raising something as seemingly insubstantial as garlic connects us to eternity. "You pay homage when and where you can. I love the smell of the bulb as the earth opens and releases it in harvest, an aroma that only those who grow garlic and handle the bulb and the leaves still fresh from the earth can know. It is a smell Garlic farming as a subversive activity? Maybe. There is much more to this book than garlic lore. Stanley Crawford muses on the meaning of life, what makes it worthwhile and how raising something as seemingly insubstantial as garlic connects us to eternity. "You pay homage when and where you can. I love the smell of the bulb as the earth opens and releases it in harvest, an aroma that only those who grow garlic and handle the bulb and the leaves still fresh from the earth can know. It is a smell richer and more vibrant and expansive than what most people think of as garlic. Anyone who gardens knows these indescribable presences - of not only fresh garlic, but onions, carrots and their tops, parsley's piercing signal, the fragrant exultations of a tomato plant in its prime, sweet explosions of basil. They can be known best and most purely on the spot, in the instant, in the garden, in the sun, in the rain. They cannot be carried away from their place on earth. They are inimitable. And they have no shelf life at all." Yes, yes, yes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Savannah Hendricks

    For a book about garlic it was rather interesting. It takes a skilled hand to write 239 pages of essential, garlic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sebastián Sorhobigarat

    I started reading this book after watching Rotten on Netflix, where Stanley Crawford was mentioned as a garlic farmer on New Mexico. I tried to import the book without any success to Argentina as it was not available then, but after some time I noticed it was available on Kindle, so I took the shot. It is a fantastic book, beautiful, simple. Not only about garlic, it is life trough garlic planting, it is philosophy, how the seasons pass for us on the surface and for the bulb under earth. The auth I started reading this book after watching Rotten on Netflix, where Stanley Crawford was mentioned as a garlic farmer on New Mexico. I tried to import the book without any success to Argentina as it was not available then, but after some time I noticed it was available on Kindle, so I took the shot. It is a fantastic book, beautiful, simple. Not only about garlic, it is life trough garlic planting, it is philosophy, how the seasons pass for us on the surface and for the bulb under earth. The author speaks about his crop, but also his life, his younger days, his wife, the community, the landscape, birds, water. All those simple but beautiful things that surround the garlic farm in New Mexico that may seem common and unimportant to many, but not for Crawford. It is in some way an intimate book as it shares the author´s point of view on many things beyond garlic farming. I have always been marveled by people who are able to see something where others see nothing. Stanley Crawford is able to see beauty and life where other may just see routine and is capable to write that down with subtle good taste.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shultonus shultonus

    This is one of the older books in this relatively new genre (I dropped everything and started gardening). While it isn't the best in story-telling, it shines through as one of the best because of its' maturity. One part philosophy, one part social critic, one part growing garlic in New Mexico; It reminds us of the vital connection to land and community. Comparison to Thorough or Leopold would be appropriate. Pulling no punches this book is honest, and thoughtful. I think that fact that the write This is one of the older books in this relatively new genre (I dropped everything and started gardening). While it isn't the best in story-telling, it shines through as one of the best because of its' maturity. One part philosophy, one part social critic, one part growing garlic in New Mexico; It reminds us of the vital connection to land and community. Comparison to Thorough or Leopold would be appropriate. Pulling no punches this book is honest, and thoughtful. I think that fact that the write has spent 15 years growing food, rather than a couple of short years certainly reflects the things that matter when the dust is settled and the irrigation ditches are dug.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jean Strumbos

    A slice of quiet life from a curmudgeonly author-turned-garlic farmer. If you can stumble upon a used copy at a second hand bookshop in Taos, that would be best. If you live in the Rocky Mountain region, and are trying your hand at vegetable gardening, all the better, though any appreciation for gardening will surely do. A lovely book of essays structured around the growing cycle of garlic on his farm, with rapturous, wry observations on the most minute of developments, and practical advice from A slice of quiet life from a curmudgeonly author-turned-garlic farmer. If you can stumble upon a used copy at a second hand bookshop in Taos, that would be best. If you live in the Rocky Mountain region, and are trying your hand at vegetable gardening, all the better, though any appreciation for gardening will surely do. A lovely book of essays structured around the growing cycle of garlic on his farm, with rapturous, wry observations on the most minute of developments, and practical advice from a pre-internet time, filtered through an author’s language. The odd cultural reference felt timeless and of the moment, despite its 1992 publication.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Breseman

    Not sure what I wanted this to be, but it is a philosophical rambling of a New Mexican garlic farmer. Some of it was insightful and spoken from the heart, but at times could be quite dull. He follows a seasonal pattern and draws insights into human nature and life from his garlic fields, the weeds and birds, the neighboring farmers and customers at his weekend tailgate farmers market. Who knew there were so many life lessons one could draw from garlic? :)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane McKenzie

    Crawford writes an insightful novel about the life of a garlic farmer and his family in New Mexico that made this reader feel as if she were planting, weeding, and harvesting this precious crop. Only four stars because the book could have been a little shorter but very descriptive and well written with a nice literary flare.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pippa GSD

    A quiet, but swift-moving volume. It moves along, I suppose, because of Crawford's effortless writing style. He gets across his deeper and more prosaic ideas about farming, neighborliness, desert life, peace, and more without ever attempting to impress us with the depth or artfulness of his insights.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maria LaFontan

    Its always refreshing to read the tales of other farmers. Just when you think you've reached an all time level of back breaking stupidity; you realize you are not alone! And then the reality: farming is a dare, a defiance towards the natural world AND it feels real good!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Margo

    A beautiful reflection on a year of planting and harvesting, with meditations on renewal, growth, and a world both new and ancient. Amazing and disturbing how his comments on government and ecology, written in 1990, could have been written for today.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    Crawford's memoir is a lyrical account of garlic's four seasons on his New Mexico farm, carved from the wilds with hard work and a dream. I love garlic and better appreciate fresh, home grown rather than a China import. Too, Crawford gives me confidence that I can grow garlic too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina King

    I have drawn out my reading of this book so it could never end. Beautiful, clever, comforting, and rare as any book I’ve ever read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Grant Scalf

    A lovely book. I will be seeking out the other Crawford titles after this introduction.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

    3 stars leaning towards 4. not born into a farming family, crawford came to it only as an adult. this aspect provides endless subject matter for his book. his decision making, errors, learning experiences and day-to-day duties culminate as a well-written "life in a place" story that features man, plant and animal as its characters. crawford embraces his daily interactions with the earth, the seasons, the local wildlife and his customers, and uses these experiences and observations to frame ponder 3 stars leaning towards 4. not born into a farming family, crawford came to it only as an adult. this aspect provides endless subject matter for his book. his decision making, errors, learning experiences and day-to-day duties culminate as a well-written "life in a place" story that features man, plant and animal as its characters. crawford embraces his daily interactions with the earth, the seasons, the local wildlife and his customers, and uses these experiences and observations to frame ponderings on society, philosophy, psychology, ecology, sustainability and more. it feels like i've been listing a great number of topics covered here, and yet one of the best things about this book is its simplicity. the language is simple, the work is simple, the man is simple, the messages are simple. i'd put this book on the shelf with the couple of things i've read by william least heat moon. while moon's writing feels more inspired - perhaps because he is generally traveling while crawford here is sedentary - the two men are endeavoring to flush out similar morsels of life. recommended for garlic eaters, gardeners, food and cooking enthusiasts, people who shop at farmer's markets and readers of geographic non-fiction(?).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    A story of raising garlic from planting to harvest in Northern New Mexico. To tell the truth, I just read this, and I can't remember much except that it was a source of comfort during a time of stress. The predictability of patterns, the peace from nurturing and nature, the ebb and flow of time. It was about knowing your neighbors (both human and non) and still, not knowing your neighbors. The innocence of a question, and the depth of thoughts and emotions it brings. All I can say is that this w A story of raising garlic from planting to harvest in Northern New Mexico. To tell the truth, I just read this, and I can't remember much except that it was a source of comfort during a time of stress. The predictability of patterns, the peace from nurturing and nature, the ebb and flow of time. It was about knowing your neighbors (both human and non) and still, not knowing your neighbors. The innocence of a question, and the depth of thoughts and emotions it brings. All I can say is that this was a soothing book about traditions of the earth - farming - and it brought some peace into my life. Thank you.

  17. 5 out of 5

    blue-collared mind

    The odd thing about doing tons of travel is that you find yourself in the next place thinking about the last place. An example is on my recent trip to Great Barrington Massachussets I found this book about a farmer from Santa Fe NM, who sold at the farmers market there. Sometimes I am humbled by the secret life of books and how far they travel.... So I picked it up to see what that farmer thought about 21st century farming and markets. And he did just that. And he grows heirloom garlic too which m The odd thing about doing tons of travel is that you find yourself in the next place thinking about the last place. An example is on my recent trip to Great Barrington Massachussets I found this book about a farmer from Santa Fe NM, who sold at the farmers market there. Sometimes I am humbled by the secret life of books and how far they travel.... So I picked it up to see what that farmer thought about 21st century farming and markets. And he did just that. And he grows heirloom garlic too which makes him a hero in my book. So next time you're in, say, Columbus Ohio, try to look for a book on Mississippi homesteading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Colin McPhillamy

    What might you do for a day job if you write novels? Grow garlic of course. If there is poetry in garlic the author discovers it here. His responses and explorations of the soil the sunlight, the air and the irrigated water, and the way that garlic likes to grow make this account a compelling read. The book takes us through the planting, growing, harvesting, and to-market cycle, also telling the story of years and how the author's understanding has matured. He simultaneously intrigues us with an What might you do for a day job if you write novels? Grow garlic of course. If there is poetry in garlic the author discovers it here. His responses and explorations of the soil the sunlight, the air and the irrigated water, and the way that garlic likes to grow make this account a compelling read. The book takes us through the planting, growing, harvesting, and to-market cycle, also telling the story of years and how the author's understanding has matured. He simultaneously intrigues us with an almost transcendent appreciation of the natural processes, and challenges us with perceptive commentary on the bigger agribusiness-political complex. A delightful book, detailing a huge achievement

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angela Woodward

    Crawford focuses on the small-scale, taking piece by piece the elements of the farm. He discusses the garlic's growth under the earth, his local community, his family, birds, markets, equipment, each in little studied chapters. Each is a story in itself, and they unfold together into a complexity that reaches far beyond the farm into nuclear catastrophe. This is some of the best nature writing I've ever come across, crystalline and unsentimental.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom Leland

    "Free enterprise, so called, knows no bounds and shrinks from no means in the pursuit of its power over the imagination." This book is tinged with brilliance which makes it worth slogging through overly granular details about garlic farming. Don't get me wrong -- I expected and looked forward to a certain amount of garlic-farming basics. But again, worth it for those times Crawford moves into the broader meanings of life and the errant paths "civilization" has taken.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    this is a memoir written by a man who escaped the rat race in the 70's and bought a farm in New Mexico. He and his wife built an adobe house, a farm and a new life. The author is able to weave all of his ideas and observations very well into the mundane and ordinary and somehow transform them into something he really likes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steve D

    A beautfiul, thoughtful discussion/explanation of garlic farming in New Mexico. Particularly interesting exploration for me of the "seasons of life" and appreciting those times of reflection and introspection (fall/winter) as much as those of growth, development, and success.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Whiskeyb

    Yeah, I like garlic. And this is Straight-up about growing garlic and livin the farm life, which is nice, and very different from his super-meta-weirdo book about the barge, The Logbook of the S.S. the Mrs. Ungentuine, one of my all-time favourites.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joline Godfrey

    A moving, romantic, real story of a life spent trying to achieve the parallel quests of making money/doing good. This is Crawford's well told tale of the challenges, trade-offs and triumphs of that life mission. This is a great read for an aspiring entrepreneur.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amie

    If you are curious what it is like to be one of those farmers at the farmer's market... this is a good choice. It is more about imagery than turning pages ... kind of a meditative, semi-philosophical, ode to nature with some down sides thrown in. I liked it a lot.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Interesting autobiographical story of author on garlic farm in northern New Mexico. Didn't enjoy it as much as Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miralce. Best parts were his personal musings about his surroundings. Could have done more with this to have held my interest.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    I didn't finish this book I thought it was a fiction book about New Mexico and come to find out it's a book about growing garlic

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    The subject matter is interesting, but the storytelling is too dry. More like prose than novel. I only made it halfway through before abandoning it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    anon

    talked about it here: http://www.5cense.com/13/travel_notes... talked about it here: http://www.5cense.com/13/travel_notes...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharry Teague

    Hope to read the rest later

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