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Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating, and Drinking Wine in California Hardcover – May 25, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First edition, first printing (full number line) edition (May 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520259025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520259027
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,810,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this rambling memoir from America's heartland of organic produce, literary scholar Raskin (For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman) recalls a pleasant year visiting farm friends in Sonoma, Calif. Following the chronology of one season, he goes to farms, markets and restaurants, profiling Mexican workers, talking with small-farm advocates and even harvests vegetables himself. The breezy, romantic prose is peppered with literary references, and, at times, awkward academic language. His descriptions of meals seem limited to sumptuous, delicious and excellent; similarly, the analysis tends to be cursory. After listening to one industrious produce seller's story, Raskin evokes a simple Wow! The closest his research comes to a serious investigation is a description of employees at the Sonoma Whole Foods Market, a company he openly dislikes. The story's overarching countercultural bent intensifies the aging academic's apparent longing for the revolutionary roots of organic foods. The redemptive aspect of this memoir lies in its intensely local specificity—Northern California's marijuana-growing culture and a feeling of youthfulness—although the sprawling narrative imparts more of a gauzy, poetic impression than any cohesive ideas about food or farming. 22 b&w photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

College professor Raskin spent a year working at Oak Hill Farm in California’s Sonoma County, documenting what makes the place a success in an era that values local, organic, sustainable agriculture. Founded by dedicated conservationists, Oak Hill Farm and the people who labor in its fields typify contemporary attitudes toward food production. He talked to farm workers from all over Sonoma, even to a couple of dedicated, knowledgeable Mexican laborers who lack legal status. Each of Raskin’s subjects has some unique history, but they are united in their love for what they perceive as a fulfilling rural lifestyle. Idealizing the role of agriculture, they formed close bonds with the land, their animals, and with those who buy their produce. As Raskin notes, with tongue in cheek, every farmer in the area claims to be a supplier for Alice Waters’ celebrated Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse. --Mark Knoblauch

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. E. McAuley on April 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jonah Raskin's newest book, Field Days, is a great affirmation of life; the life of food, of human beings connecting with the land, of people connecting with each other and, ultimately, even reconnecting with themselves.

In his words, Raskin paints the real life portraits of the the unique folks who have a passion for real farming and portrays the great bounty of the legendary Sonoma region of California, known the world over for its food, wine and uniquely attractive vibe that draws people from across the globe to visit and find out what all the fuss is about.

To read Field Days is to journey with Raskin throughout a year in the Sonoma region, deep into its richness and plenty, and to come away from the trip fulfilled. Raskin works the fields, tastes the fruits of his efforts and, along the way, gains great insights into himself and the place he calls home.

Field Days is a satisfying feast; another triumph such as one has come to expect from Raskin.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Williams on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like William Butler Yeats's excursions to Coole Park in Ireland
and Henry David Thoreau's adventures at Walden Pond in Massachusetts,
Jonah Raskin's odyssey at Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma, becomes the basis
for individual change and transformation to the surrounding culture.
The descriptions of Raskin working in Oak Hill Farms magnificent organic
fields, bring the reader to the soil itself and into the hearts, minds
and dreams of the people who own, work, and live at Oak Hill, as well
as the people who flock to buy its fresh organic produce and flowers.

Field Days, takes the reader into the heart of the movement of organic
farming that flourishes in Sonoma County and around the USA.
It takes us through the toil and triumphs of the small farm,
clinging to life within a
world of totalitarian mono-crop farms that wait outside the small
farmer's gate, like those world dominators in Aldous Huxley's Island,
ready to take over at any slightest opportunity or crop failure.

In Field Days, the author writes with a farmer's guile and care.
He leads us down rows of corn, beans, and flowers, and we share
the discoveries in their planting, cultivation and harvest.
He sets us on the side
of the road to watch the crops loading onto the farm truck and
their slow drive to the barn where they are washed and readied
for market. The author also takes us deeper into the discussion
about the importance of multi-crop organic farms verses mono-crop
conglomerates. He shows the sustainability of the small farm that
does not strain the land, the soil, and the farm itself.
Jonah Raskin's book shows us the magic an organic farm like Oak Hill
produces in a community.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Stein on August 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Do you need a lovely read for a summer day or chilly fall evening? Pick up your copy of Field Days and go on a deeply personal, moving and illuminating journey with Raskin through the productive fields, lively farmers markets, and produce stores, of Sonoma's organic agriculture. First of all, this is one man's journey deep into his own environment. After years of teaching, writing, researching, interviewing, analyzing, Raskin puts aside his writer's tools temporarily and becomes a field worker. But he also retains his writer's eye and ear, and creates a narrative of a journey through the world of organic farms and foods. Vivid characters emerge, as he gradually makes friends with Anne Teller and other founders of the organic movement, and farm workers, produce sellers, and cooks alike. We are deeply grateful to travel that world with the author, and when we bite into a perfect ear of organic summer corn, we will always remember whose hands sowed and harvested it.
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