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Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness Paperback – March 30, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582435863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582435862
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist and photographer Hamilton presents a multicultural snapshot of the American sustainable agriculture movement, profiling a Texas dairyman, a New Mexican rancher and a North Dakotan farmer, all who have converted from conventional to sustainable agriculture for economic and personal reasons. Harry Lewis, born to a family of former slaves who began farming in a Texas freedom colony, switched to organic farming to avoid price-gouging by agribusiness but also to support his core philosophical tenets. Virgil Trujillo, whose Native Americans ancestors were the first settlers of Abiquiu, N.Mex., practices holistic resource management at a dude ranch/retreat center. David Podoll set out to prove organic agriculture wrong, but instead was converted; he and his brother now buck the North Dakotan trend of farm consolidation and corn, soybean and wheat monoculture by focusing on the family garden and breeding plants for diversity, beauty and strength. The book vividly shows how these stubborn individualists rooted in the soil struggle are forging a path away from monolithic agribusiness to sustainable agriculture for its promise of spiritual integrity, community and food security. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Agriculture is journalist and photographer Hamilton’s beat, and alternatives to environmentally and economically detrimental agribusiness have become her passion. Accordingly, she profiles farmers and ranchers who believe that “agriculture is not an industry” but, rather, “a fundamental act that determines whether we as a society will live or die.” East Texas dairyman Harry Lewis’ commitment to keeping his organic dairy operation small and in the family stems from his forebears’ role in the freedom colonies founded by former slaves. Virgil Trujillo’s family has owned land and cattle in what is now Abiqui, New Mexico, for 10 generations, and he believes that small ranches managed with an eye to the “health of the land” are the key to ending the area’s bone-deep poverty. The Podoll family in North Dakota rejects “brute-force agriculture” in favor of “enduring” practices, certain that the knowledge and skills of hands-on farmers are essential to coping with climate change. Hamilton’s in-depth portraits of independent farmers offer invaluable perspectives on American agriculture, past and present, while offering hope for a life-sustaining future. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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I bought this book and let it set for awhile.
jeff chandler
I think Ms. Hamilton does a great job painting the picture of each of these farms for the reader.
Arthur Sido
So, all the more reason for me to have read this great book.
Robert P. Schmidt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By snowy owl books on April 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the first pages of the introduction in North Dakota I know I have hit the exact source of a deeply wounded beauty belonging to traditional agriculture and the author who will stitch it together for us and give us the voice that often gets stuck in our own throat and is not easily pieced together from broken up memory. These chapters immediately make us familiar to the survivors, and all of the history we need to make sense of them. How does a 1950s style dairy farmer live on his principles that stem from a traditional land consciousness? How does a New Mexican stockman navigate ancestral lands where two distinct systems of old and new world property ownership have clashed and left him some impossible dream? In a sea of bio engineered and chemically dependent conventional crop fields, how does one North Dakota farmer feed his family using only natural methods?

It is not by a matter of methods that these men survive, though the methods are important, it is their convictions and their character that lead them to independence. Harry Lewis understands that prosperity isn't something you create, prosperity is the form of our green earth; and true prosperity is received through shepherding our earth. Virgil Trujillo understands that "fitness" is "survival of the fittest" as he adapts to the cultural, political and economic forces that gash his land and his history. David Podoll has a deep spiritual sense of what is right and what is wrong, he knows that tilling massive acres of earth is a wasteful proposition if done in the conventional manner of which maximization for profit is the only god.

It's also a perfect travel narrative, with a painted scenic view and a conversational style that offers absorption into the mindset and the reality of remarkable individuals.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paul Dooney on April 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I tore through this book in just a couple days, and when I was done I only wanted more. I've been watching Lisa Hamilton's writing and photography in Orion and her book is even better: great characters brought to life before my eyes. What a treat. We can only hope that this is the first in a long line of books from her, and that she keeps going to places we don't usually go and bringing back characters like these farmers. Highly recommended, if you care about food, or farming, or just good stories from the heart of America.

Bonus: you can see some photos of the farmers in the book on her website, something I wish more non-fiction authors would do.

My only beef, small as it may be, is that the people at my local bookstore in LA didn't know about this book. Is Counterpoint hard to track down? I bought a second copy as a gift through Amazon, but I can't decide who to give it to.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Sido on April 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I finished Lisa Hamilton's Deeply Rooted last night. It was a thought-provoking work. Ms. Hamilton singled out three unconventional farmers, farmers who bucked the trend of constantly increasing the size of their operation and spent quite a bit of time watching what they do and more importantly finding out why they do what they do. All three buck conventional wisdom and while they might not make as much money as the huge commercial farms they still retain their connection to the land and their community, something Ms. Hamilton argues and I largely agree has taken place in most of the agribusiness world.

I think Ms. Hamilton does a great job painting the picture of each of these farms for the reader. Her vivid imagery is sometimes raw but life on a farm is not all setting suns and green pastures. Life on a farm is dirty sometimes, sometimes ugly and unpleasant. When you eschew the methods of modern agribusiness, it can make life even harder. In a country where meat and milk come from the grocery store in sanitary foam packages and plastic jugs, Deeply Rooted is a welcome reminder of just how much has changed in the world of food.

The three farmers she selected are kind of characters, each with a pretty interesting personality. I am sure that is intentional, after all the book needs to be readable as well as educational. I don't think these three are typical of non-confirming farms but they do provide a great insight into the mindset of people who were raised to be farmers and ranchers but decided against getting on the economy of scale treadmill. It is one thing to woodenly detail the operations of a farm, which is only mildly interesting. Getting into the minds of these farmers is where the really interesting stuff happens.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By country lover on May 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book profiles three very different people who have chosen to try to make it as independent farmers in today's America. Despite the fact that they could have gone with the mega-farm flow, they have tried to remain true to themselves, their respective heritages, and their desires to produce true quality products, and have chosen the roads less travelled on. Their various paths to success are fascinating, and an inspiration to the farmers of the future, as well as to the consumers who want them to succeed. If you care about the food you eat, you will want to read this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Craig C. Brandau on May 16, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have soft hands, well-manicured nails and a small balcony that's too dark to grow anything. Yet, I read and enjoyed every word of this book. I'm fascinated with sustainable farming and the like, and pass information from this book and others from it genre to my high school students.

Again, it's an excellent read!
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