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)
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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
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