Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Bounty of Wisdom

Women of the HarvestToday, women are the fastest-growing group of people buying and operating small farms.  While the number of American farms has dropped 14 percent in the past 25 years, the number of farms operated by women has increased 86 percent!  At this rate, some predict that within another 10 years, women may own as much as 75 percent of the farmland in the United States.
~MaryJane Butters in Women of the Harvest:  Inspiring Stories of Contemporary Farmers

I find kindred spirits in the pages of Women of the Harvest:  Inspiring Stories of Contemporary Farmers:  women who dreamed dreams of farming and worked tirelessly to accomplish their dreams.  I'm there; I'm working to start a market garden using non-certified organic (or, at least, reduced-chemical) practices.  Each of the seventeen women profiled is involved in agricultural production:  farming, ranching, or value-added agriculture.  Their stories are as varied as the women:  clam farmer, rancher, tree farmer, chili farmer and processor, alpaca breeder, organic farmer, organic herbalist, and organic vintner.  The women range in age from twenties through nineties.  Some were generational farmers while others began from scratch.  What each shares with the other is a love of the land and a practical acceptance of the work required to work with the cycles of nature.

What is remarkable about this book is the candor with which each woman relates her successes as well as her challenges.  There are no Pollyannas here.  Life has been tough.  Crops have failed; economies have turned.  Drought, fire, and pestilence have, at times, plagued them.  Many are dependent upon outside incomes to support their agricultural pursuits.  But each has worked through difficulty.  Each has persisted through adversity.  Each has earned her bountiful harvest.  And each is generous in sharing advice to others.  There is much to learn here about the value of hard work, and the price of success.

I enjoyed this book so very, very much; I think you will, too.

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