mofga reviews new farmers' almanac, vol. 4
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners' Association (MOFGA) review:
"Because it is so much part of our history, American agriculture ultimately mimics our body politic; a river of stories and people divided, nostalgic, forgetful, misunderstood and often misinformed. The fourth volume of the Greenhorns’ “The New Farmer’s Almanac” is not a delicate sip from these turbulent waters – it is not a quick refreshing taster nor a palate cleanser – it is a fire hose on full blast that will wash away whatever preconceived notions you had about our modern agriculture and how we arrived at this particular point in time. It is a reality check, a raging torrent; a book that exposes the reader to the capital-R-N Right Now of modern American agriculture.
This is not to say it is not beautiful. In these pages are poems and stories from the front lines of farms, ranches, gardens, farmers’ markets, forests and fields. This collection of stories from all manner of authors and artists covers everything from sweet potatoes to hickory nuts, from the evolution of modern shipping to the power of co-ops, and a lengthy section relates the past and future of marijuana cultivation.
There are quiet moments of stark prose, such as rancher Sam Ryerson’s refrains; meditations on moving cattle across the sun-baked badlands of the West, the stories of which appear spotted throughout the book, reemerging to ground the reader in the nuts and bolts of work life. And there are moments of fierce anger in the face of injustice, such as poet Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s piece “Bury Me in a Free Land,” which ends with the blistering lines, “I ask no monument, proud and high/ to arrest the gaze of the passers-by;/ All that my yearning spirit craves,/ Is bury me not in the land of slaves.”
This is the well from which the book draws its greatest power; stories and memoirs, poems and historical studies that expand upon the injustices of our agricultural system – injustices against people of color and trans people, against the poor and women. In this new installment of the ongoing New Farmer’s Almanac series subtitled “The Greater ‘We’,” New England-based Greenhorns take aim at zombie agriculture – farmerless systems that wall off the consumer from any real connection to the death and debts paid by natural systems and food production – at white land ownership and cheap labor on the backs of people of color, and at a dark past made present by the grinding wheel of greed. Read this book for understanding and for hope of a better future."
– Stowell P. Watters, Limington, Maine
The New Farmer’s Almanac, Vol. 4
Chelsea Green, 2019
400 pages, paperback, $24