Award Winner?

gardening-for-profit-front-coverI have just heard that my humble little Gardening For Profit book has been nominated for a reference book award next month, which is very exciting. The only snag is that a shortlist of all the nominees won’t be announced before the award ceremony in November (so no one will know the winners or even the shortlist before they buy tickets and go); and a ticket to the award afternoon in London will cost me over £170. Now, I’d love to go, meet other authors, get involved in networking, celebrate the book’s achievements, and support the awards too; but as a veg grower, I always tend to view prices in terms of how many salad bags I’d need to produce and sell in order to pay for things. That’s a lot of salad bags. And I’d have to get to London too. So my options are a) try and raise the money some other way, but that seems unlikely, or b) write a cross blog post about the price and implied elitism of such award and events. If I’m feeling cynical, it rather feels like only the big-shot authors who are published by big-shot publishers would be able to go to these things. But maybe that’s just pre-emptive sour grapes. I suppose I could always organise a cheaper awards ceremony myself, open to everyone, where a shortlist is published before the awards and/or just a token payment is asked of around £20 to cover bare (cheap) costs – ie not in a London hotel, but somewhere like a horticulture college – and with prize-givers who would be happy to get involved and not charge high fees. Hmm; there’s an idea…


The Bath Market Apple Day: Sunday 19th October

A6_BATH-MARKETS_POSTCARDI’ve just signed up to appear at the fabulous Bath Market on its special Apple Day on Sunday 19th October, and am looking forward to spending the morning talking food and offering fresh veg (and books!) for sale. I can only make the morning sadly, but there are lots of exciting stands and things to do. It looks to be a great day, and I’ll also be signing my books for people who are feeling inspired to start their own market garden. Come along and say howdy from 9.30am.

My Name? J.R. Hartley

My brain was a real sponge in the 80s and 90s when it came to TV adverts; and I seem to live my life via these ingrained phrases sometimes. Having been thrilled to see my book (Gardening For Profit, subtle plug there) on sale at the Oxford Real Farming Conference on Tuesday at the Blackwells stand, I thought I’d pop into my local Waterstones in Bath, just on the off-chance that they stocked it too. Sadly not. Blast.

However, I asked the helpful lady behind the desk whether it was possible to order in. “Oh yes, as long as it’s in print, we can order any book for you – shall I order it now?” Now I suddenly foresaw the J.R.Hartley moment from the old 80s’ Yellow Pages advert if I carried on along this route, where he tries to track down a copy of his own book on flyfishing (apologies to all those too young or not in the UK then). So being the hard-nosed professional that I am, I got horribly embarassed and scuttled off before agreeing to the order, murmuring something about coming back later to order it. I’ll wait another 30 years before doing a J.R.Hartley again I think.

But back to the ORFC on Tuesday; despite weather and traffic dramas, the day was really interesting and useful. I was spoilt for choice when it came to sessions, so apart from my own (really interesting discussion from everyone there on innovation and research for commercial smallholders), I also took in the session on tools for small growers (probably the most useful and practical session of the day); as well as the group on Enlightened Selling, and the last session on democratising research. In between there were also endless captivating discussions and skillshares with lots of new people; it’s always so nice to talk to those you’ve never met before but who have a similar outlook (although of course there was still a wide range of opinion on everything under the sun, but you can always find someone practical to chat to). A real boost for the enthusiasm too in these depressing cold months.