The Winter Reading List

It’s official! Winter has arrived. The shortest day of the year is behind us but there are still months of dark and cold before our thoughts need to turn to the outdoor chores left undone. In my world that means a seat by the fire, a cup of fresh coffee (or your favorite feel-good beverage) and a book. In this busy world it seems  there is never time enough for reading (or naps…naps are another luxury missing from my life). I love getting great book recommendations from friends so to repay the favor here are a few suggestions I think new farmers might enjoy. Post your favorites too, it may be a long winter…

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is a fun love story–you know, the city-girl-falls-in-love-turns-farmer kind of read. But it is well-written and the love for the farm and the land shines through as does the joy and responsibility that comes from being the person responsible for raising food for others.

Sharing the Harvest: A citizen’s guide to community-supported agriculture by Elizabeth Henderson with Robin Van En. This book,  updated in 2007, was first released in 1997. For many it was the first comprehensive book on CSA‘s that was instructional for both farmers and members. The new edition updates the numbers and case studies so it is worth the investment. If you are not familiar with the concept of CSAs and the evolution over the past 2 decades you will find a lot of that history in this book.

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez. Read this book even if you don’t have young children at home! Alvarez explores the migrant farm worker story from the perspective of two young people in Vermont. After 11-year-old Tyler’s father is injured in an accident, the family is in danger of losing their dairy farm. To save the farm, Tyler’s family employs Mari’s family, who are illegal migrant Mexican workers. The book explores the complexities and moral dilemmas of migrant farm workers and the farmers who employ them.

Anything by Wendell Berry. In preparation for his latest book of poems, due out in April 2011, now is the perfect time to reconnect with Berry’s work. If you haven’t read this farmer/author/poet/essayist then make time this winter. He is a gentle man who has great passion for his piece of the world and a gift for putting his feelings into words.


About Mary Peabody

Working with beginning farmers since 1994.
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