Publication date: October 28, 2022
Contact: Courtney Andree at the University of Massachusetts Press in Amherst, MA
Playing God in the Meadow: How I Learned to Admire My Weeds
After decades of fantasizing and saving, of working multiple jobs and embracing frugality in the midst of Manhattan, Martha Leb Molnar and her husband had found their parcel of land. Determined to turn an overgrown and unproductive Vermont apple orchard into a thriving and beautiful landscape, they decided to restore this patch of land to a pristine meadow and build a safe haven for their family and nearby wildlife.
Once they cleared the gnarled and dying trees away, Molnar was forced to wage war on the invasive species that had sprung up around the property. Propelled by the heated debates surrounding non-native species and her own complicated family history and migration, she was driven to research the Vermont landscape, turning to scientific literature, experts in botany and environmental science, and locals who have long tended the land in search of answers. At turns funny, thoughtful, and conversational, Playing God in the Meadow follows this big city transplant as she learns to make peace with rural life and an evolving landscape that she cannot entirely control.
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MARTHA LEB MOLNAR is a freelance writer, author, and commentator based in Vermont. A former New York Times reporter, Molnar was a regular contributor to Vermont Public Radio and has written articles for Horticulture, Northern Woodlands magazine, Mother Earth, and Green Mountain Club magazine, among other outlets. She is the author of Taproot: Coming Home to Prairie Hill.