On Saturday July 28th a crowd gathered in the Type Books basement to celebrate the release of Robin Shulman’s new book, Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York.
Robin talked about what inspired her to write Eat the City. When she moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan to attend school, the area did not have a great reputation and many nights were surrounded by gun shots and poverty. When her neighborhood decided to clean up the area and make it a better living environment, she was more than happy to take part. The clean parking lots and parks provided a place for people to create new life by planting vegetables and a place where roosters and hens could now live and lay eggs. She chuckled as she explained that everyone experienced a culture shock as they got used to rooster calls.
This change in environment got Robin thinking about local and urban farming that helped to shape New York City into the industrial world it is today. We often think of New York as being a city filled with skyscrapers, high rise buildings and corporate industries, but at one time this city had a key role in helping to produce a huge variety of food. With the amount of immigrants traveling to the “Big Apple” (which we learned has nothing to actually to do with apples), a wide variety of new food was being introduced to United States residents. In Eat the City, Robin speaks to the people that had a hand in helping to create a powerful and booming city from the ground up.
At this event, Robin had an on stage conversation with Lorraine Johnson, a Toronto author who wrote City Farmer: Adventure in Urban Farming. They discussed the differences and similarities between Canada and United States in regards to urban farming. Turns out we Canadians have much stricter rules when it comes to planting things in the ground!
It was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Our thanks to Type Books for hosting such a great event.