Digging Dirt with Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart, author of the popular blog titled ‘Dirt’, rolls back her shirtsleeves and digs in to provide her readers with a variety of topics. Ranging from gardening, worm composting, to chicken raising, Amy is passionate about all of her interests. Her passion has resulted in being a recipient of a National Endowment Arts fellowship, appearances on various television and radio talk shows, and having her books on Discovery Channel Book Club Selection – to mention a few of her honors.

“I really love blogging because it is spontaneous, informal, and because I don’t have to worry about offending anybody. I really hate the kind of “Here are five handy tips for adding summer color to your patio” garden writing. I want to read real people using their real voices, and blogging is where that’s happening. Garden media is increasingly dominated by a few companies. Go check out the garden magazines on the newsstand – they are almost all published by Better Homes & Gardening or Fine Gardening magazine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there’s just not much diversity. Plus, it’s all aimed at beginning gardeners. I want to write and read about, people’s engagement with the natural world – their connection with the plant kingdom. And I want to read something funny and interesting, that has real personality! That is what’s happening on blogs,” Amy stated.

When asked about her background, Amy says, “I was a regular kid of the suburbs with no gardening experience. I grew up in Dallas/Fort Worth and went to college in Austin. I attended grad school at University of Texas-Austin. Texas is very hot in the summer and ‘yard work’ was more of an unwanted chore than anything else.”

“I am a writer and I write about gardening and nature because it’s interesting to me, but like most writers, I depend on other jobs to pay the bills. I have worked for various kinds of public agencies and I am proud to say that all the jobs I have ever had have somehow involved serving the poor. That is something I think we all have a moral obligation to do,” Amy said.

“I also do speaking engagements to promote my books. Sometimes I do workshops or talks in between book tours. I probably started in 2001 when ‘From the Ground Up’ came out. I am very comfortable with public speaking and it’s fun to talk to people who share the same interests I do. Also, I love to travel, so this gives me another excuse to go somewhere,” Amy shared with us.

“In the beginning (1995), I started writing a garden column called ‘From the Ground Up’, and kept a gardening journal. Those two things sort of came together and became my first books,” Amy commented. Visit www.blog.amystewart.com/mediareviews.html to find out more about her books.

“I can’t really pick just one favorite flower. I love to grow salvias more than anything. I love any kind of scented flower, from lilac to jasmine to those little daffodils. In fact, I can’t think of a flower I don’t like. I do however, find roses a little boring unless they have a really fabulous cent or a very cool color. When I was working on my new book (Flower Confidential), I got turned on to a tri-color rose called ‘Esperance’ that is creamy white, pink, and pale green. It has huge blossoms that open halfway and hold their shape. And, they last almost two weeks in the vase! Spectacular!” exclaimed Amy. Read Amy’s gardening blogs at www.blog.amystewart.com/garden/index.html.

“I got interested in gardening for the first time after I moved to Santa Cruz, CA. I had a little yard, a little money, and a little time. People say that young people aren’t interested in gardening anymore, but I think that the truth is that anyone who is unsettled in their life is not interested in gardening, regardless of age. Once I settled into a space, I started gardening. My first book, ‘From the Ground Up’, was about that first impulse to start gardening,” Amy commented.

“The worms came out of that. There was something very appealing about the idea of this miniature farm of worms. Something was very organic and biological about it. I started a small worm bin for kitchen scraps (which I still have). Then I got interested in the worms in my soil and realized that there is quite a bit that we still don’t know about earthworms. That is where the inspiration for ‘The Earth Moved’, my book about earthworms, came from. Check out www.blog.amystewart.com/worms/index.html.

“As far as the chickens go, they just seemed like they’d be fun. My husband and I both work at home so we’re around to keep an eye on our little flock. They are wonderful pets. They eat snails and lay eggs. We have named them after First Ladies – Eleanor, Abigail, Dolley, and Bess. We were both vegetarians already, but now that we own chickens, we have become strong proponents of free-range eggs. Chickens are wonderful animals. They are full of personality, very loyal to each other, and very clean. Now that I live with them, I realize how inhumane it is to cram them into cages,” said Amy. Check out www.blog.amystewart.com/chickens/index.html for chicken blogging by Amy.

Amy Stewart currently writes for a variety of publications ranging from Organic Gardens to Bird Watcher’s Digest. “I teach a nonfiction workshop in which I try to explain how storytelling works when it comes to nonfiction, and how much nonfiction writers can learn from fiction,” states Amy.

With a reputation of providing her readers with informative yet entertaining reading, Amy Stewart is quoted a saying, “As a writer and a reader, what I really want to do is make a contribution to literature. I want to practice that art form.”

Visit Amy’s popular blog at www.blog.amystewart.com.

“I am always writing another book – I’ll keep writing them as long as someone wants to keep publishing them!” Rock on, Amy!

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