HARVEST: A Year in the Life of an Organic Farm

Nicola Smith, Author, Geoff Hansen, Photographer , with photos by Geoff Hansen. Lyons $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59228-234-0

Freelance writer Smith and her husband, photographer Hansen (My Life as a Dog ), dispel the "dreamy, nostalgic haze" surrounding urbanites' notions of smallholder agriculture with this detailed look at life on a working farm. For a year, they follow their Vermont neighbors, Jennifer Megeysi and Kyle Jones, through the snow, mud and manure as they work Fat Rooster Farm. Numerous vignettes, illustrated by Hansen's appealing pictures, pile up a wealth of detail about this small organic establishment, which raises both livestock and produce. It's a gritty life: Megeysi and Jones, who also hold jobs off the farm, must deal with murderous raccoons, hypothermic piglets, ducks overdue for slaughter, byzantine food regulations (and the legislators behind them) and their own difficult marriage. More than most writers on farming, Smith is attuned to the people who do it: Megeysi may be one of the most vividly drawn farm women since Letters of a Woman Homesteader . Readers who garden seriously, however, may notice a few inaccuracies, as when Smith calls minuscule garlic shoots "scapes" (the term refers to flowering stalks). And occasionally unruly sentences and a not quite chronological, not quite thematic structure can obscure the larger patterns by which Megeysi and Jones manage their farm. Farming is an intricate, sometimes brutal dance with the land; this book demonstrates most of the moves, but never quite the full performance. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/20/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
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