I’ve just started to experiment with watercolors again and, in looking for subject matter, started painting a stack of books I was returning to the library. The book above is one that I decided to renew, reread and share because I loved it SO MUCH. If you, like me, have ever dreamed of quitting a job in the city to follow your ideals and discover the fulfillment of farm life, surrounded by free-grazing animals and bucolic green pastures, this is the perfect summer MUST-READ.
Harvest, A Year in the Life of an Organic Farm (by Nicola Smith w/photography by Geoff Hansen) follows the course of a year at Fat Rooster Farm, whose owners are actually living the dream. The pages are filled with details of the sheep out at pasture, chickens that roam free, cows trailed by their calves, hand-gathered honey and maple syrup, their four-year-old son helping with the chores. We get to follow them to markets and vendors – selling their own meats, eggs, and vegetables and witness the strong sense of community that helps to keep their little corner of the world afloat.
But for every day-dreamy, reassuring detail, there is a lesson in reality – a reminder that making the commitment to own a farm means bearing witness to life and death and everything in between. For those expecting tips or a thorough education on how to grow specific vegetables or raise animals (read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), this may not be as satisfying. However, if you enjoy the grittiness of getting the full experience – an unflinching account of how food gets grown and delivered to the table – read this immediately!!
The pictures make me want to grab a pair of workboots and jump right into the pages, and by the time I was finished reading it, I had decided I really needed to buy my own copy. It is so immersive, I actually felt like I had taken a (work-intensive) vacation after finishing it and quickly jotted a note to add this to my “Read once a year” list. As I am a huge library fangirl, I checked it out at my local branch – but it is also available to purchase through Amazon.
This is a life worth living, learning about & appreciating. The gratitude I feel for these people and their commitment to making sure we have the best possible food choices available is beyond. Anyway we can pass this appreciation on is important, so while you’re checking this out, here are some books to share and read with your favorite farm-loving kiddos…
Our Favorite Kid Accompaniments:
On the Farm by David Elliott
Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life by Julia Rothman
Sonya’s Chickens by Phoebe Wahl
A Seed is Sleepy by Diana Aston
Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray
The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble
The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes
Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House by Judi Barrett
The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons
Photo Credits: Geoff Hansen
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community.
When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.