Eating Dirt

Eating Dirt

eBook - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Perseus Publishing
Winner of the BC National Award for Non-Fiction
• Nominated for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction and the 2011 Hilary Weston Writer's Trust Award.

During Charlotte Gill’s 20 years working as a tree planter she encountered hundreds of clear-cuts, each one a collision site between human civilization and the natural world, a complicated landscape presenting geographic evidence of our appetites. Charged with sowing the new forest in these clear-cuts, tree planters are a tribe caught between the stumps and the virgin timber, between environmentalists and loggers.

In Eating Dirt, Gill offers up a slice of tree-planting life in all of its soggy, gritty exuberance while questioning the ability of conifer plantations to replace original forests, which evolved over millennia into intricate, complex ecosystems. Among other topics, she also touches on the boom-and-bust history of logging and the versatility of wood, from which we have devised countless creations as diverse as textiles and airplane parts. She also eloquently evokes the wonder of trees, our slowest-growing “renewable” resource and joyously celebrates the priceless value of forests and the ancient, ever-changing relationship between humans and trees.

Publisher: New York : Greystone Books, 2011
ISBN: 9781553657934
Characteristics: 1 online resource.
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
susieajax Oct 30, 2017

A compelling vivid account of tree planting and forestry. I couldn't put it down!

Jul 19, 2016

This is an interesting look at the life of a tree planter and the botany of trees & their environment, nature and our part in all of this.
Charlotte Gill's life as a tree planter is a different career path than most of us follow. It is hard, fun, dirty, cold, hot and seasonal. As a day-hiker, I recognize the beauty and silence of the mountains. They are a marvel and potentially a hazard but truly stupendous. The trees tower around, the air is fresh....Charlotte's descriptions bring these hikes back.
Her descriptions of the life of a tree planter teeters between the repetitive (which it probably is), the jubilations, the boredom, the huge amounts of food needed to fuel the activity, the dirty & worn clothing, the reception in the small towns. Without having lived this sort of life, I imagine it is just as described, making this life a mixed bag of fun, freedom, boredom and distance from society.
I also really enjoyed the botany of the trees, the life of the fauna & birds and the thoughts of the Earth & forests.

Oct 05, 2015

I have always admired tree planters. I see them as the unsung heroes of the forest, step by step and seedling by seedling working in a garden they will never see harvested, a garden that is a necessary ingredient for life on this planet. Having grown up in British Columbia I know the terrain that they had to contend with, the weather, the back-breaking physical work, and Gill covers every larger-than-life aspect. She also adds a lot of information concerning geology, botany, historical human activities, animal migration, First Nations ethnography, logging company history and practice that many of us may not have even thought about. She has an understanding of the interconnectedness of everything. Her writing has a flow to it that carries you along and makes you feel as grubby and bone-tired as she is. I did find the diversions to the educational sections sometimes jarring but came to accept them and appreciate them.

timbert May 07, 2014

Vivid & convincing description of a lifestyle I had not thought of, together with informative passages on trees & forests.
The writing in itself was pure pleasure to read, finished the book wanting more.

Jan 01, 2014

One of the best books I have read

Jun 04, 2013

Great book. I never thought tree planting could be written about in such a poetical way. Brought back many memories.

Apr 15, 2013

Eating Dirt sheds light on a corner of the logging industry that isn’t well known and manages to do this while walking a fine line between denouncing or glorifying the business. Entertaining, beautifully written and informative, this is a book I relished.

StratfordLibrary Mar 22, 2013

Blind Date With A Book comment: "Thank-you for helping me stumble upon a treasure I never would have encountered on my own. The writiing was as gritty as it's title."

Jan 20, 2013

This book is a mixture of facts and fiction. It is amazing really how in each sentence Gill has created images of our planet and BC in such a sadly, beautiful way...informative, poetic and full of the natural wonders

Sep 27, 2012

well deserved awards. Gill is a wonderful writer and mixes the mundane and the scientific effortlessly. A must read for all who care about our forests.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at FVRL

To Top