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Gaining Ground: A Story Of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, And Saving The Family Farm Paperback – May 21, 2013


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Gaining Ground: A Story Of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, And Saving The Family Farm + You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise + Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (May 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762787252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762787258
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Once on the brink of virtually disappearing only decades ago, the family farm has recently been enjoying a resurgence due to the popularity of organic livestock and produce. Disenchanted with a looming desk job and eager to save his family’s multigenerational Shenandoah Valley farm, Pritchard celebrated his mid-1990s college graduation by rolling up his sleeves and brainstorming to find ways of keeping his parents’ 400-plus acres of land from being portioned off to agribusinesses. This engaging first-person account is filled with gentle humor and colorful anecdotes about the false starts and pitfalls Pritchard faced before finally settling on raising grass-fed cattle and sheep. Desperate to improve on the tiny profits the farm was making selling corn, Pritchard tried marketing firewood, then chickens, then beef, running a gauntlet of sometimes comical challenges, including broken-down farm equipment and his father’s attempt to sell frozen chickens from his D.C. office. Anyone who has been bit by the farming bug will find lessons aplenty here, while urban readers will enjoy a vicarious slice of farm life. --Carl Hays

Review

"Pritchard's engaging memoir opens with him, new English degree in hand, deciding to take over the family farm after fall harvest profits fail to materialize. What follows is a remarkable odyssey of food from farm to table; a classic against-all-odds narrative that will have readers changing their shopping habits. Pritchard is a born storyteller with a shrewd ability to make lively everything from his father's battle with a rogue pig to simple chores like selling firewood or bailing hay. His learned-the-hard-way experiences are thoroughly entertaining and non-farmers will absorb enough about raising livestock and tending land to broaden their expertise at the farmers' market and grocery store. He also addresses the politics involved in supporting local organic meat including issues of price, health, and the environment. By the end of his wonderful book, Pritchard lies in a field pondering his own slim margin of success from slowing things down in our fast paced world; a well-deserved moment of happiness for this important new spokesperson of the future of agriculture and poet of the earth."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

More About the Author

Forrest Pritchard is a professional farmer and writer, holding degrees in English and Geology from William & Mary. His farm, Smith Meadows, was one of the first "grass finished" farms in the country, and has sold at leading farmers' markets in Washington DC for fifteen years. Pritchard is also an accomplished public speaker, and a frequent contributor to food and farming blogs.

His first book, Gaining Ground, was named a top read by The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and NPR's The Splendid Table. A new book is slated for September 2015.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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This book was very well written and such a pleasure to read.
Seema Wadhwa
Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm by Forrest Pritchard is the perfect book for a wannabe farmer.
Iwannafarm
A Great Read More a story (not a how to book) Very well written and very humorous.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Iwannafarm on May 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm by Forrest Pritchard is the perfect book for a wannabe farmer. In fact it's the perfect book for anyone who has had a dream and wondered what the process might be to make dream reality. It doesn't have to be a farming dream, because all dreams are achieved the same way: by hard work, determination, and sacrifice. Sure, there are some other things that go into the recipe for success, but I believe these are the backbones, and Forrest Pritchard illustrates this quite well in telling his story of becoming a farmer and saving the family farm. As Joel Salatin points out in the forward to the book, this book is especially important for people who will never farm. Not everyone can or should farm, but that doesn't mean they should be disconnected from the food they eat and feed their children. As Mr. Salatin says, "Every time we eat, we participate in farming." Forrest does a superb job in reminding us of this as he takes us down the road of his personal journey into farming.

Who is Forrest Pritchard?

Forrest Pritchard was a farm kid who didn't know much about farming. His family farm was managed by various farmers after his grandfather died while his parents worked everyday 9 to 5 jobs in other towns away from the farm. These farm managers tried using industrial farming techniques to keep a profit going, but inevitably little by little the farm was accumulating debt and failing. After graduating college Forrest was faced with the big question we're all faced with:
What am I going to do with the rest of my life?

His father encouraged him to get a secure position as a teacher. After all it was steady work with insurance and a pension. It's safe.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kim S. Uttenweiler on May 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Having known Forrest since he first set up his table at the Arlington Farmers' Market, I was truly pleased to see his new book out for sale Saturday morning. Well, it certainly did eat up my weekend. I have not loved a book so much for many years. And I read a LOT of books. After putting away my provisions, I sat down on Saturday and didn't come up for air until Gaining Ground was finished Sunday afternoon. I laughed until the tears ran.

Forrest is the only writer I can think of that makes farming sound like fun. His philosophy regarding sustainable, humane farming practices should be the model of the future. We must get away from thinking that cheap food is better food.

Through all his trials of getting the farm ready for organic farming, through trying to find a butcher, to his short dabble into goat farming and finally, saving the family farm, you will laugh and cry and vow never to eat supermarket food again.

And I am going back this Saturday to buy a copy for all my friends.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Elli Ludwigson on May 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Before I begin my review of Gaining Ground, allow to me to make a quick disclaimer: I am not an objective reader. In fact, I have worked for Forrest at farm markets every weekend for over a year now, in rain, snow, wind, thunder and tourist season. Before Smith Meadows came into my life I was largely vegetarian in order to avoid sponsoring the horror stories I read about the papers and books like Omnivore's Dilemma and Deep Economy. Then, through a boyfriend's friend's sister's best friend I found Smith Meadows, the perfect local farm with all the practices and principles an idealist could hope for.

Forrest Pritchard is Smith Meadows' farmer, its steward and practically a part of the soil he has worked so hard to nourish from the sad state it was in after years of overuse. As it turns out, lush pasture is easily achieved through a combination of patience and well planned herd rotation, switching between cattle, pigs, chickens and sheep, letting each fertilize and refresh the soil in turn. "Easily," of course, is a relative term when one is reading about it all from a comfy chair with a nice cup of tea.

In truth, it took not only years of hard work but decades of failure for the Pritchard family farm to turn around and produce a profit (as well as valuable land, animals and a sterling example of good farming practices). Gaining Ground recounts the journey Forrest took his entire family on when he realized that farming might be more of a calling for him than teaching (though writing is clearly still in his repertoire). As a bit of a book connoisseur, I did note that the book itself has a good looking, glossy cover, the text is printed clearly on nice feeling paper and the photos are incredibly helpful in placing the reader right there on the farm.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Diana Roberts on May 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A lovely book, full of heart. It was so well-written, too. I laughed out loud so many times, and even teared up during one section. I am in awe of farmers & this book really gets to the soul of what it takes to run a family farm. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By H. K. T. Mulvaney on May 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My motivation to read this book actually was through a one night stay at the family's bed and breakfast in Berryville-Smithfield Farm B & B. I loved the place, the matriarch(s), the story of the B&B and it helped that we paid a visit to the country store which yielded tons of yummy meats. I couldn't wait to order the book when we returned home. It couldn't come soon enough. First off, I am a leisurely reader and a convenience shopper but have tried to become a better consumer as well as a reader with intent to learn. The book is wonderfully entertaining with his trials and tribulations, references to things that lure those city folk from his generation such as myself-like the Jams shorts purchase with his earnings, all the while allowing me an "inside" view as to how important sustainable and organic farming is, and how hard it is! I really appreciate even more so of every bite of livestock I have eaten. I have also told pretty much everyone I know to read the book. It's real, it's laugh out loud funny, it's life.
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