The Wisdom of the Radish: Plant a Seed Contest

The most charming memoir I’ve read in years, The Wisdom of the Radish turns the classic “small-town girl goes to the big city to seek her fortune” story upside down. Instead, Stanford-educated city girl, Lynda Hopkins, leaves the comforts of the city to start a small farm.

It isn’t glamorous, but Lynda describes her farming (mis)adventures with a sort of spunk and confidence that almost makes you want to leave everything behind and test yourself on a farm. It is a comedy, with oversexed roosters and overflowing irrigation systems. It is a tragedy, with murderous foxes and bug-destroyed crops. It is a romance, with a dramatic, touching scene in the field at dawn, when . . . wait! I do not want to spoil that part.

The Wisdom of the Radish is one of those rare nonfiction books with an engaging plot that could masquerade as fiction. Lynda writes like a cheeky girl next door; she makes starting a farm from scratch and raising unruly chickens sound like an amazing adventure story. But the book is also painlessly informative about plants, buying local, and the struggling field of small farming.

But most simply, it’s just a really good book. In one of my first weeks working, I was assigned to do a backup read of the book right before it was sent to the printer. My boss probably thought I was the most dedicated employee ever: I read that book with such focus, even bringing it with me on my lunch break and reading it on the bus ride home. (Shh, do not tell him it was just because I was hooked and could not stop reading!)

The book also made me desperately want to go to my local farmer’s market. The small farmers in The Wisdom of the Radish are so real, so likable, and so hardworking that supporting local farmers just seems like the logical thing to do. Plus, I know they must have some juicy farming stories to share, just like Lynda.

Author Lynda Hopkins

So, the pressing question: what is the wisdom of the radish, anyway? I suppose you’ll have to read the book to find out.