A new children’s picture book by South Charleston author Matt Browning celebrates the many ways farming can take place within city limits.
Browning describes “Chicks and the City” as a child-friendly exploration of urban agriculture. The picture book was published earlier this month by Headline Books.
Browning will sign copies of “Chicks and The City” at the Café Appalachia Artisan Market in South Charleston from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Aug. 29.
“The concept of urban agriculture has grown exponentially in recent years,” Browning said, “as people in cities and towns have become increasingly interested in growing their own food. You don’t have to live on a large farm with acres of land to be a successful small-scale farmer, and this book illustrates examples of how to do that for young people.”
In “Chicks and the City,” protagonist Chicken Stu, a typical barnyard bird, watches the city from atop a silo and he longs to visit there. He makes his way to the city and discovers the many ways farming happens in downtown areas, such as urban orchards, community gardens, farmers markets, and chicken coops.
The idea stemmed from the rise in urban farming Browning was seeing in West Virginia cities such as Charleston and Huntington, he said.
Browning was one of the original planners of the West Virginia Urban Agriculture Conference, which was launched seven years ago and is hosted annually by the West Virginia State University Extension Service.
“Chicks and the City” is published by Headline Books and is illustrated by Ashley Teets Belote. The book retails for $16.95. To learn more and order copies online, visit MattBrowningBooks.com.
Copies of “Chicks and the City” and Browning’s 2019 debut book will be available to purchase at the Artisan Market as well.
His first book, “Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia,” features profiles of many of West Virginia’s small book shops. It contains essays and interviews with West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, best-selling author Rajia Hassib, longtime Charleston bookseller Gordon Simmons and others.
“For years, independent bookstores were on a downward trend thanks to chain retailers and online shopping,” Browning said in a February Metro article. “Now, though, the indie shop is once again on the rise, and I wanted to learn how booksellers in West Virginia are not only surviving but thriving, while also providing readers a sort of road map to explore our state’s many wonderful stores.”
“Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia” also explores additional places book lovers in West Virginia can seek out books beyond the standard shop, such as antique stores, thrift stores, and libraries. It was released last December and can also be ordered through Browning’s website.
“I live in South Charleston, so the Artisan Market at Café Appalachia is a good fit not only because it’s in the neighborhood, but also because the Café exemplifies many of the urban farming and gardening activities discussed in the book,” Browning said.
“I haven’t done any in-person events since the pandemic began and am doing this because it’s an outdoor venue with safety precautions in place. I’m hopeful the rain holds off on Saturday, but if there are any changes in scheduling, I’ll post them to my website, MattBrowningBooks.com,” he said.
With two books published, Browning has other projects pending, some virtual and one about the renowned sitcom foursome known as Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia.
“My publisher, Headline Books, has a ‘Zoom Into Books’ series where their authors do virtual readings and signings. So I’ll likely be scheduling one of those soon.
“I also, just yesterday, signed a publishing contract on a pop culture book about ‘The Golden Girls’ TV series. So, I’ll be finishing up that manuscript this fall and winter, and it’ll be published sometime next year by Globe Pequot Press,” Browning noted.
Café Appalachia is located at 206 D St. in South Charleston. The Artisan Market is an outdoor event, dependent upon weather conditions. Social distancing guidelines will also be in effect.