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The Seasons on Henry's Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm [Kindle Edition]

Terra Brockman , Deborah Madison
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Book Description

Henry's Farm, run by Henry Brockman, is in central Illinois — some of the richest farming land in the world. There, he and his family — five generations of farmers, including sister Terra, the author — have bucked the traditional agribusiness conventional wisdom by farming in a way that's sensible, sustainable, and focused on producing healthy, nutritious food in ways that doesn't despoil the land. Terra Brockman tells the story of her family and their life on the farm in the form of a year-long memoir (with recipes) that takes readers through each season of life on the farm. Studded with vignettes, digressions, photographs, family stories, and illustrations of the farm's vivid plant life, the book is a one-of-a-kind treasure that will appeal to readers of Michael Pollan, E. B. White, Gretel Ehrlich, and Sandra Steingraber.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After reading Brockman's lyrical portrait of a central Illinois sustainable farm, citizens of the Fast Food Nation and Slow Foodies alike will gain a renewed appreciation for a fresh tomato or a fistful of basil. Covering a year on her family's farm, biologist and writer Brockman takes readers through the cycle of farming, transmitting the chill of numb fingers harvesting lettuce and the searing heat of cucumber and tomato harvests, not to mention the meticulous winter seeding and backbreaking weeding that ensure a successful crop. Brockman doesn't pull any punches, from the slaughter and processing of poultry, to the politics of plastic shopping bags at the farmers' market, to harrowing tales of pesticides that will have readers rethinking supermarket peaches. Digressions involving farming methods and quirky residents like Lucky Tom the turkey entertain rather than distract; recipes for fresh corn, pea soup and fried green tomatoes also enhance Brockman's multi-dimensional take on what, in less gifted hands, could have been a pedestrian story. Sure to inspire a trip to the farmers market, and a much deeper appreciation of its bounty, Brockman covers her subject with hard-earned expertise and organic passion.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“The Seasons on Henry’s Farm, a book to be reckoned with, lifts you high enough to witness the tremendous possibilities people are capable of expressing in their working lives—in this case, through farming. If you’re a fan of Aldo Leopold, or have long suspected that time-honored methods of farming are best for the earth (and our taste buds) and require intelligence and thoroughness exceeding the levels demanded by most occupations, you will discover here that your suspicions are well founded…. The Seasons on Henry’s Farm is an exhilarating story of observation. It’s a humbling one, too, for few of us can imagine mustering the endurance and precision needed to farm this deeply. But that Henry and his familial band of followers can and do, again and again, makes the world of the farm more than a dream or an ideal. It’s a great encouraging kick in the pants for all of us, regardless of how we spend our time, or what we do, to achieve such excellence in full consciousness of all its complexities and consequences. This book tells a tale as raw and vivid as one could hope for, while gently imparting what we need to know about the soil, plants, and animals that sustain us.”
from the foreword by Deborah Madison

“Here's what you get when the farmer's sister turns out to be a masterful writer: a compelling argument for rebuilding our nation's food security that is threaded within a lyrical, funny, suspenseful narrative of life on her brother's Illinois farm. The cycles of the agrarian calendar are so vividly described within these pages that I was sure I would wake up the next morning with sore muscles.”
Sandra Steingraber, author of Living Downstream and Having Faith

“Terra Brockman's new book is such a delightful synergy of poetic inspiration and realistic descriptions of life on a farm. Here is everything from the joy and satisfaction of growing garlic and rai...

Product Details

  • File Size: 5957 KB
  • Print Length: 301 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1572841036
  • Publisher: Agate Surrey (April 28, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003P9XC30
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #556,860 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
If you're a typical city/suburban resident like myself who has purchased "organic" vegetables at the standard grocery store only to find they were a total waste of money, this book explains why. Terra enlightens the non-farmer with incredible detail, yet in a manner that makes the reading pure pleasure. The Brockmans are clearly a highly intellectual family who fore go the city life for the simple life. A life of hard work, but more rewards than most of us can imagine. It's such a pleasure to read, the fact that you are learning about farming is truly secondary to the story.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, edifying, thoughtful, funny book ... January 7, 2010
I'm so intrigued by how the entire book was woven around a skeleton formed by several dimensions of time: seasons, crops, generations, and human mortality. The element of time was suggested by everything about the book -- the photos, Hiroko's beautiful pen-and-ink drawings, the nature of the recipes, the inclusion of bits from the various generations. I was always aware of time, which gave the book -- or at least this reader -- a sense of urgency, an awareness of the passage of time, assuaged by a comforting reminder of the circle of immortality, the timelessness of the Earth. This book made me want to DO.

I loved the interspersing of different styles. A description of planting garlic leads naturally to the recipe for "Pockets full of garlic soup", and thence to musings about the importance of timing, overlayered with rueful complaints about aching, aging knees in contrast to those of Kazami, "a compact, curly-headed, 13-year-old package of fearless life force hurtling down the hillside on a blur of bicycle". Later, scholarly discussions of the enduring dangers of chemical fertilizers (the author's father is an environmental geneticist) are woven into an attempt to capture the meaning of wabi-sabi, a Japanese Zen concept that the author relates to rural community life, thanking the hens for their eggs, and macabre stories told to grandchildren to make them behave.

This is a particularly good book to give as a gift. It is wonderful to use for morning meditations (especially since it's laid out chronologically over a year). It's very funny, and thoughtful, and loving. I've given this book to many, and treasure my own.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid, beautiful, and eye-opening October 18, 2009
After spending most of my summer buying Henry's produce and Teresa's fruits and herbs, I was thrilled to be able to attend their annual Potluck and Tour in early October. While I was there, I picked up a copy of this book, and have not put it down since. I'm on my third reading, and it's become my way to soothe my mind before heading off to slumber.

The quality of Henry's produce is nearly unmatched - and certainly anything I've had in the past pales in comparison. Seeing the farm offered one perspective; reading about it brought an entirely new one. Terra is a remarkably gifted writer, bringing the farm and all that comes with it to life. Even though I only saw a small portion of the farm, I have such a vivid mental image of nearly everything she writes of, from the fields to the truck to the dogs who guard the crops.

Reading through the book gives such newfound appreciation for the Brockman family, Matt, and all the apprentices. To see their work and passion brought to life was truly an inspiration, and nearly enough to make me want to spend a summer on a farm.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorougly enjoyable! September 23, 2009
Not only is the subject matter incredibly relevant - sustainable living and local produce - but Terra Brockman manages to write in a very engaging way. Were this not a book with such a personal angle for her, I feel that her writing skills would still make for an interesting read.

It's an informative book which also has the occasional humorous anecdote - I'm thinking specifically of the geese that had reached sexual maturity and how the farm had to deal with it!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I never put it down... January 14, 2010
By Josh
I wouldn't call this a real page turner, but I read "The Seasons on Henry's Farm" straight through. If you want to know how an organic, small-scale family run farm functions, this book includes everything. If you are thinking of working on or starting up a farm I recommend this book; if not, I recommend it anyway as a way to understand where your farmer's market food comes from. Really an enjoyable book, also includes some great recipes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A standout June 9, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are always farming and vegetable gardening books on my headboard. I inhale them. While I rarely abandon one unfinished, there are definite stand outs in the dozens of histories, personal or family stories and farming politics that i have read. This book shot right to the top, with its evocative prose bringing the rhythms and hard work of the farming life into a clear and beautiful picture. I admit to favoring it partly because the authors ethics are right in line with mine. I loved the historical and literary references and found a wealth of information, ideas and inspiration to add to my 30 years of food growing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as a fresh bunch of basil February 13, 2010
I heard about this book from "Organic Gardening" magazine. It's easy to satisfy me with a book about growing organic vegetables or running a small farm, so what a treat to peel back, like an onion, layer after exquisite layer of story and feeling here. A stranger off the street would love this book. The harmony of a family working together, the disharmony of family challenges with weather, health concerns, and hard work, are all found here. Also appearing in a smooth blend is the unbelievable beauty of nature that can be found even on a muddy farm. And these descriptions are only the tips of the glacier this fine book contains.

Terra Brockman's scientific knowledge imbues this book with a rich and interesting depth, too. Her understanding of the biological processes at work help you understand the tremendous effort that goes into the sex life of corn...or the immense pools of teeming life in what looks like plain dirt. It is laid out in a manner where the science is never uninteresting, and never misunderstandable. The author is a scientist, botanist, poet and dreamer. All those varying oeuvres meld beautifully in this wonderful work. I will likely read it again within a few weeks, and surely re-visit it from time to time over the years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Couldn't put it down. We are planning our own homestead and this is a beautiful picture of farm life. Well written..wonderfully descriptive...
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer Dickinson
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read sad that our year is over.
Enjoyed every minute- how enlightening to find out that there are still people who care about our earth and our health!
Published 2 months ago by Kimberly
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight into a family farm!
I loved this book. I loved following the planting and the work involved with a family farm through the seasons. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Thank you love it!
Published 3 months ago by Roei de Leon-Mendez
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
A boring read
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Every season there is something to do on the farm. This book illustrates that well.
Published 5 months ago by Cat
5.0 out of 5 stars The whys and wherefores of good food.
If only everyone could read this book. You want to understand your food? This is the answer. Ms. Brockman makes it ever so easy to understand the need for sustainable farming... Read more
Published 5 months ago by susan gottfried
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a little boring to me
I am still reading it. It's a little boring to me.
Published 5 months ago by Phyllis Cloud
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
Loved this book. Felt like I was "there" as I read it. Made me long for a similar farm life.
Published 5 months ago by Edmuncm
5.0 out of 5 stars So much info and life packed into one book!
This book is for anyone who has ever thought about vegetable farming or is interested in gardening. It takes you through a year of planting, harvesting, marketing, and caring for... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Monica Darrah
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More About the Author

Terra Brockman was born in Florida (where her father was earning his PhD in genetics, and where her older brother inadvertently chopped off part of her finger when she was two), but raised in central Illinois, where four generations of her family had farmed.

Of course she couldn't wait to leave what seemed a capital B Backwater, so she "lit out for the territories" when she was eighteen. After spending time at the University of Oregon and the University of California at Berkeley, and finishing up an undergraduate and graduate degree in English Literature and Biology at Illinois State University, she went to Japan and worked as a teacher, writer, and editor for five years, and then to New York City where she worked as a writer and editor for almost a decade.

During those years, she traveled extensively, from Nepal to Eritrea to Morocco to the Baltics. While visiting "third world" countries she found she often ate better foods than in the U.S. because their foods were fresh, local, and unprocessed. As she gradually returned to her roots in central Illinois, Terra realized that the best food in the world could and should be grown in the rich soils of Illinois and that it was a matter of national security that communities be able to feed themselves.

In 2001, she founded The Land Connection, a nonprofit working to save farmland, train new farmers, and connect consumers with fresh local foods. Terra has eaten bacon-wrapped duck testicles, but her favorite food is a lightly fried duck egg on toast.

Terra regularly writes and speaks on food and agriculture topics. More information is available at TerraBrockman"dot"com.


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