Archives For Farming

 

“Do all the good you can.”

A Review of 

Organic Wesley:
A Christian Perspective on Food, Farming, and Faith
William Guerrant, Jr.

Paperback: Seedbed, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by Michelle Wilbert

 

Over the last thirty years, from roughly 1990-2016, the world has seen a veritable explosion of new—or renewed—social, political and spiritual movements that have sought to reclaim and rejuvenate ideas about the intersection of health, fitness, environmental sustainability and spirituality. Most of them are centered on centuries old models that have been resurrected and updated with new information and research combined with technological advances that have allowed us to share information on a mass scale—we can communicate across the globe in a matter of seconds and what a contrast from the18th century of John Wesley and his ministry as recounted in William Guerrant, Jr.’s delightful book, Organic Wesley: A Christian Perspective on Food, Farming and Faith.  One can only wonder at John Wesley–the Anglican cleric who founded the Methodist movement—on foot or on horseback, traversing the far corners of England promoting his message of personal holiness that included a powerful belief that a Christian had an obligation to preserve and maintain their physical health and well being through a healthy and simple diet, ample exercise, appropriate rest and recreation “in the open air” and all the better to be fit to serve and minister to others.

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)


> > > >
Next Book

The Fall of Arthur: An Epic Poem
By J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Ragan SutterfieldIn 2013, we are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.

We’ve asked a number of noted writers to pick the classics that they often return to, and we will be running these lists as a weekly feature on our website through 2013.

This week’s post in the series is by Ragan Sutterfield.

Writers on the Classics:
[ #1 – Shane Claiborne ] [ Most recent, #4 – Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove ]

Ragan Sutterfield is the author of the book Farming As A Spiritual Discipline, and a forthcoming title from Cascade Books on faith and agriculture.  He has written for a variety of magazines including Men’s Journal, Triathlete, Paste, Gourmet, Spin, Fast Company, Christianity Today and Books & Culture on issues relating to health, good food, sustainability, and theology. He blogs on Patheos at WORD+ FLESH.


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Breaking Through Concrete - Hanson / MartyPropelling Us into Vacant Lots

A Feature Review of

Breaking Through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival.

David Hanson / Edwin Marty

Hardback: U of California Press.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

The City of Saint Louis, where I live and garden, owns roughly one third of the property in Saint Louis. Eight thousand properties are abandoned, and 11,000 lots sit empty. As people moved out of the city and into the ‘burbs, hundreds of properties fell vacant, taxes weren’t paid, neighborhoods were blighted; now the city faces budget shortfalls, in part because a third of the land in the city goes untaxed. St. Louis is just one example among many: Birmingham has 20,000 acres of open land, Philadelphia 70,000, and Detroit 100,000 empty lots. This translated into thousands of acres of ragweed and Johnson grass which these cities have to pay to mow.

Breaking Through Concrete offers an alternative to the apocalyptic urban landscape of post-industrial American cities like St. Louis. The book profiles twelve urban farms from across the country which have re-purposed urban plots to provide healthy, clean food to their communities. The book joins a growing collection of literature (such as Urban Farm Handbook, Farm City, Your Farm in the City, and The Urban Homestead, all published since 2010) and documentaries (such as Urban Roots, 2011) on urban farming, indicating a shift in the way city-folks are regarding their land. Continue Reading…

 

Harry Ploughman
Gerard Manley Hopkins

HARD as hurdle arms, with a broth of goldish flue
Breathed round; the rack of ribs; the scooped flank; lank
Rope-over thigh; knee-nave; and barrelled shank–
          Head and foot, shoulder and shank– Continue Reading…

 

Breaking Through Concrete - D Hanson, E MartyAn excerpt from

Breaking Through Concrete: Building An Urban Farm Revival.

David Hanson / Edwin Marty

Hardback: U of California Press.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Watch for our feature review by Alden Bass later this week…






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Putting in the Seed
Robert Frost

You come to fetch me from my work to-night
When supper’s on the table, and we’ll see Continue Reading…

 

The Dirty Life - Kristin KimballGood, Dirty Fun

The Dirty Life:

A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love

Kristin Kimball

Paperback: Scribner, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Tyler Eckel

Like clean living? Read The Dirty Life. It begins with the author, having reached the plateau of her career as a travel scribe kid at the age of 30, handling and reveling in the intense culture of New York and cocktail parties the world over. She was wondering whether this had become her life forever, whether there was more to it than keeping ahead of the game of the machinery of the city, whether her relationships would continue being the humdrum exchange of one eccentric for another. Then, on a writing assignment about young organic farmers, she met the most eccentric of the eccentrics she’d met, her now-husband Mark. Tall, strong as an ox (or a farmer), and with inexhaustible energy, she knew instantly and instinctually he was a man who could provide for her needs come hell or high water. After a whirlwind courtship they were engaged and the two set off to start their own farm.

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“For Farmers, For Landowners,
For Citizens and Neighbors

A review of
??American Georgics:
Writings on Farming, Culture and the Land
.
Brian Donahue, Sara Gregg, Edwin Hagenstein, eds.

Review by Rachel Reynolds Luster.


American GeorgicsAmerican Georgics:
Writings on Farming, Culture and the Land
.
Brian Donahue, Sara Gregg, Edwin Hagenstein, eds.
Hardback: Yale UP, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

American Georgics: Writing on Farming, Culture, and the Land, offers readers a concise and well-heeled collection of agrarian thought and writings from the founding of our Republic through the current wave, including speeches, essays, excerpts from novels, and poems. The writings in this volume trace the evolution of “the economic, political, social, and ecological dimensions of agrarianism” (372). Some of the authors will be most familiar to readers of agrarian writing including James Madison, Henry David Thoreau, and Wendell Berry; others, such as Jesse Buell, Louisa May Alcott, and Nate Shaw (Ned Cobb), will come as delightful surprises. The collection is rich in many ways but one of its greatest strength comes from the variety of perspectives offered but perhaps the most striking aspect of reading American Georgics is its undeniable relevance to our current political, economic, and agricultural moment.

Editors, Edwin C. Hagenstein, Sara M. Gregg, and Brian Donahue present the pieces in a fairly linear and chronological fashion beginning with the development of our nation’s identity and governance, and passing in turn through a burgeoning industrial economy, American Romanticism of the mid-nineteenth century, the advent of industrial agriculture, regional agrarian movements of the early to mid-twentieth century, and other back-to-the-land movements that would follow, and on through the current zeitgeist of locavores, school gardens, urban farmers, and the gourmetism of real food. The book is laid out in seven sections following these themes, introduced by a thoughtful essay on the grouping, and then each individual piece is preceded by a contextual biography of the author.

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A Brief Review of

Fields of Learning:
The Student Farm Movement in North America.
Laura Sayre and Sean Clark, eds.
Hardback: The University Press of Kentucky, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sarah Winfrey.

It sounds almost idyllic: students stream out of classes, where they’ve worked and wracked their brains studying everything from math and science to English and Spanish, and head straight for the fields, where they use their hands and lithe young bodies to coax produce out of the ground. Add to this picture an image of these same students sitting down, several hours later, to a meal featuring the fruits of their labors, and you have what many people think of when they bother to think of a student farm at all.

However, as usual, the idyllic picture doesn’t tell the whole story, and that’s where Fields of Learning comes in, to fill in the gaps. Much goes on behind the scenes of a student farm and this book touches on everything from funding a farm to what it takes to start one to practical aspects of integrating what goes on with the farm into the rest of an institution’s curriculum. It will mostly interest those who have been part of a student farm (whether as student, faculty, staff, or in another role) or those who are looking to start one, though those focusing on educational trends will find information of value, too.

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