I'm a Fan.

Gayla's most recent book - 'Grow Great Grub - Organic Food from Small Spaces' is a must-have.

When choosing a book to give as a gift, I run through a mental checklist.  Does it fit the recipient's personality?  Is the subject engaging?  Will it be cherished and enrich the life of the person I give it to?  No matter who the giftee may be, the answers to these questions are YES, YES and a resounding YES when the book is written by Gayla Trail.

Gayla is a Toronto author, blogger, and small-space/guerrilla gardening champion.  I don't mind telling you that she's one of my heroes.  Her website, You Grow Girl is a wealth of information and inspiration for newbies and seasoned gardeners alike, and includes her awesome blog as well as one of the best gardening forums on the internet.  I first discovered the site in 2005, when I was given Gayla's first book as a gift, entitled You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening

My introduction to Gayla's writing opened new doors.

I devoured  'You Grow Girl', reading it cover to cover at least a dozen times in the first month it fell into my hands.  Shortly after, I found myself in the position to put the book into practice when I moved to an apartment in the States where my only gardening space was a partially shaded balcony.  If not for the book, I'd likely have determined that growing anything in this teeny situation was impossible... but that summer I enjoyed herbs, strawberries, peppers and loads of flowers thanks to Gayla's sound advice and creative small-space solutions.  I didn't know it at the time, but Mo Farm was growing in my heart and mind from the moment I picked the first strawberry that very summer.

Years later, with an actual garden to play in and much more experience under my belt, I was thrilled to hear that a new book was on the horizon for Gayla, and I rushed to pre-order it.  When Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces landed in my mailbox, it was like 'You Grow Girl' all over again.  I read it.  And re-read it.  And re-re-read it.  I filled it with sticky notes and scribbles, compiling lists of varieties that I wanted to try, projects to undertake, and tips I needed to share.  I've bought both of Gayla's books for countless friends, and they're among the most deeply cherished things that I own.  I know from her blog that a new book is on its' way, and trust me when I say I'll be first in line to get it.

Stuck for a last-minute gift?  You gotta get Gayla! 

Better Than a Book

My first copy of Urban Farm... the beginning of a love affair
The other day, much to my delight, I discovered that Urban Farm magazine is now available by subscription.  Huzzah!  My friend happened upon this new publication last spring and brought it into the office, then in its' second edition (pictured above).  It was love at first glance!  I thumbed through the pages, drinking them in, and realized that there was no possible way that I could leave it at the office... this was going to have to be an overnighter.  Weeks later, I finally tracked down another copy of the issue - I had to buy it to replace the worn and dog-eared, post-it-note-ridden, overly-read copy that I'd commandeered from my officemate.  

Since then, I've become an avid hunter of Urban Farm... sometimes found with a bit of luck at Chapters, but more commonly discovered while unearthing hidden, scattered copies underneath piles of 'Country Living' and 'Good Housekeeping' at obscure grocery stores.  The search is over!  

Urban Farm is a new breed of gardening mag, focusing on sustainable city living with practical and creative advice from real 'urban farmers' on topics ranging from growing organic vegetables and improving your composting techniques to keeping city chickens, capturing and using rainwater effectively or starting a community garden.  It's seriously bad-ass, and I always recommend it to anyone who is interested in putting their backyard to better use.  The only downfall has been that it's generally pretty difficult to find - but now it will drop safely at my door!  Perfect! 

Now, off to trick my husband into buying me a subscription for Christmas...