Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living


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Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Chelsea Green Publishing Co
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Pages: 288 Illustrations and other contents: Black-and-white illustrations throughout Language: English ISBN: 9781645020301 Categories: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“The Book for Cider Lovers”–New York Times Today, food is being reconsidered. It’s a front-and-center topic in everything from politics to art, from science to economics. We know now that leaving food to government and industry specialists was one of the twentieth century’s greatest mistakes. The question is where do we go from here. Author Andy Brennan describes uncultivation as a process: It involves exploring the wild; recognizing that much of nature is omitted from our conventional ways of seeing and doing things (our cultivations); and realizing the advantages to embracing what we’ve somehow forgotten or ignored. For most of us this process can be difficult, like swimming against the strong current of our modern culture. The hero of this book is the wild apple. Uncultivated follows Brennan’s twenty-four-year history with naturalized trees and shows how they have guided him toward successes in agriculture, in the art of cider making, and in creating a small-farm business. The book contains useful information relevant to those particular fields, but is designed to connect the wild to a far greater audience, skillfully blending cultural criticism with a food activist’s agenda. Apples rank among the most manipulated crops in the world, because not only do farmers want perfect fruit, they also assume the health of the tree depends on human intervention. Yet wild trees live all around us, and left to their own devices, they achieve different forms of success that modernity fails to apprehend. Andy Brennan learned of the health and taste advantages of such trees, and by emulating nature in his orchard (and in his cider) he has also enjoyed environmental and financial benefits. None of this would be possible by following today’s prevailing winds of apple cultivation. In all fields, our cultural perspective is limited by a parallel proclivity. It’s not just agriculture: we all must fight tendencies toward specialization, efficiency, linear thought, and predetermined growth. We have cultivated those tendencies at the exclusion of nature’s full range. If Uncultivated is about faith in nature, and the power it has to deliver us from our own mistakes, then wild apple trees have already shown us the way.

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“The best wine book I read this year was not about wine. It was about cider, though not entirely. It was really about trees and places, agriculture and culture, and the tension between nature and industry . . . Uncultivated is thoughtful, pessimistic and hopeful at the same time. Anybody who loves food, loves wine and ponders where they come from should read this book."—Eric Asimov, New York Times “The Book for Cider Lovers”—New York Times Booklist— "Brennan is deeply anti-capitalist and endeavors to work with the land and the trees in a way that is respectful and sustainable, actively rejecting the conventional wisdom of entrepreneurship focused on continual growth. The book is written in a conversational style and readers will get to know the author’s personality easily."   “Andy Brennan is a stubborn, thoughtful original, and his apple memoir is powered by inspiring verve and irreverence. Loving apples or cider is not a prerequisite for loving this book. All that is needed is the willingness to follow a vibrant narrative voice driven by the pursuit of dreams.”—Alice Feiring, author of Naked Wine and For the Love of Wine “Andy Brennan’s new book Uncultivated is smart, wise, raw, generous, unapologetic, and poetic. As delicious to drink in and as profound as the unique and artful ciders he makes.”—Deirdre Heekin, vintner, La Garagista Winery; author of An Unlikely Vineyard “Andy Brennan’s Uncultivated could become the twenty-first century’s One Straw Revolution. Forty years ago, Masanobu Fukuoka’s 1970s classic helped define the thinking of thousands of us searching for a new way to look at farming and the world. Every cider maker in America will want to read Uncultivated, and everyone else should, too. Not only does Brennan explore the questions facing those of us who love to grow and squeeze apples, he also digs deeply into language, art, economics, and life itself. Uncultivated is provocative and fun. Whether you’re a cider maker or not, read this book. It’s a One Apple Tree Revolution.”—John Bunker, apple historian; author of Not Far from the Tree “Part autobiography and part ecological meditation, Uncultivated presents the case for the rewilding of our agricultural imagination. Andy Brennan reflects on the relationship between authenticity, location, and commerce and finds his deepest truths in the dry farm cider of America’s Northeast. Above all, this is a celebration of the power of the wild apple tree to express a sense of place; as it acclimatizes and adapts, so it tells us the story of the land.”—Francis Percival, coauthor of Reinventing the Wheel “This book captivated me—it’s wry and artful, informative and soulful. In Uncultivated Andy Brennan throws down the gauntlet (or rather gathering tarp) for cider made from foraged wild apples, continuing hill town traditions of spirit and survival. He offers readers a new/old (revolutionary/conservative) way to think about community, business, and the living world. The book is bright with art, spirit, and daring.”—Judith Maloney, cofounder, West County Cider “Andy Brennan’s journey with the fruit of our desire is wildly inclined in ways that are going to surprise and delight. Dare I describe my cider-making friend as raucous? That this word-loving hooligan is the one orchardist among us who presumes to ungrow the apple? Open a bottle of your finest, and make a date with Uncultivated this very evening. The time has come to ponder the dignity of the apple tree.”—Michael Phillips, author of The Apple Grower and The Holistic Orchard “Every community has its visionaries. At times, they inspire and enlighten. At others, they vex and confound. But they always push you to think more deeply, reevaluate your judgments, and become more intentional, while making you feel a little uncomfortable in the process. I believe Andy Brennan is a key visionary for contemporary American cider. In Uncultivated you learn that while Andy was helping to shape and elevate the national conversation about cider and apples, he was also evolving in profound and personal ways. Idealistic and provocative, rebellious and vulnerable, Andy is both cider’s conscience and a thorn in its side, and we are the better for his work.”—Ellen Cavalli, editor and publisher, Malus “With regards to growing apples and making cider, uncultivation is a concept that excites me, particularly coming from an American author. Andy Brennan’s Uncultivated argues a case for ‘natural cider’, and his approach to it is something I hope to see grow as craft cidermakers aim to express individual quality and identity. Philosophical, haughty, and enjoyable, Andy’s approach embraces what American cidermakers strive to understand: American terroir.”—Bill Bradshaw, coauthor of World’s Best Cider “American cider has traditionally been deeply regional, dependent on ungrafted seedling trees like those lining the rocky farm fields and sandstone ridges of the Hudson Valley in New York. Andy Brennan and Polly Giragosian name their “locational” ciders after some of these foraging sites: Neversink Highlands, Shawangunk Ridge, Mamakating Hollow. Theirs are tannic, rich, full-bodied, complex drinks. As Brennan writes, ‘Cider making is a responsibility’—to the trees, the land, good food, and the community. Uncultivated is a wonderful, timely reminder of all that this drink can be at its best.”—David Buchanan, owner, Portersfield Cider; author of Taste, Memory

Author Biography

Andy Brennan owns Aaron Burr Cider in New York’s Catskills region. His career started as a freelance artist, working in the fields of photography, design, and architecture. Since its founding in 2011, Aaron Burr Cider has become well known among cider enthusiasts for its natural approach to cider making, using wild apples and yeasts. As a prominent figure in the growing US cider movement, Andy has been featured in print media and on television, radio, and podcasts. He regularly speaks about natural apple growing and cider production at museums, trade events, festivals, restaurants, and anywhere local food enthusiasts are found.