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Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works Hardcover – April 4, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


 "Turn Here Sweet Corn is an unexpected page-turner. Atina Diffley’s compelling account of her life as a Minnesota organic farmer is deeply moving not only from a personal standpoint but also from the political. Diffley reveals the evident difficulties of small-scale organic farming but is inspirational about its value to people and the planet." —Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat

"This book is wonderful on so many levels: the swift moving and dramatic story of Atina and Martin Diffley, the farmers of Gardens of Eagan, as they confront wild weather, development pressure, and pipelines. The transformation of Tina into Atina, from confused teenager to strong, passionate, and committed leader in organic agriculture. A powerful argument for organic farming and a must read for anyone thinking of farming—a vivid and realistic picture of the beauties, satisfactions, and stresses of farming as a way of life. And finally, a vision of hope for the future: blending intuitive faith in our oneness with Nature, the most advanced biological science, and the power of community." —Elizabeth Henderson, author of Sharing The Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture

"What strikes me most about this amazing memoir is that for those of us who aren’t farmers but who are versant in such issues as organics, soil building, diversity, GMOs, certification and more—it is utterly different to hear how the farmer herself grapples with them in her daily life. Unlike reading about the same issues in an article, it’s immediate, powerful, tender, heartbreaking and above all, encouraging." —Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors, Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers Markets

"By offering a look inside her own experience, and often her own heart, Diffley creates a multi-faceted, powerful, and compelling memoir about trying to live organically." —ForeWord Review


"An education on organic farming and its importance, as well as a heartfelt love letter to the land." —Kirkus Reviews


"Like her own farm, this book offers an abundant crop: practical-minded readers will appreciate the how-to’s of soil building and crop rotation as well as information on the rigors of meeting FDA organic standards. Those seeking inspiration will enjoy the story of a single mother’s dogged effort to follow her bliss. All readers will enjoy the organic ethic beautifully demonstrated in the author’s close observation of and deep deference to nature. . . . a satisfying, instructive book." —Library Journal


"Diffley fluently conveys the mind-boggling demands of organic farming in intimately personal and intricately factual ways. From the microbial soil that nourishes crops and the native grasses that lure pollinating bees to the ancient trees that shelter scavenger owls and the dedicated people who stay attuned to the delicate symbiotic relationships among them all, the thriving ecosystem of a family farm nurtures a world far beyond its borders." —Booklist

About the Author

Atina Diffley is an organic farmer, author, public speaker and consultant. From 1973 to 2008, Atina and her husband Martin owned and operated Gardens of Eagan, one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest. The award-winning video documentary Turn Here Sweet Corn, filmed when the 5th generation Diffley family farm was lost to development, focuses on the loss of greenbelt farmlands to suburbia. In 2006, when the Diffley’s second farm was threatened with eminent domain by a Koch Industries crude oil pipeline, Atina worked with consumers and government to create the Minnesota Organic Mitigation Plan. Atina can be reached at www.atinadiffley.com

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; First Edition edition (April 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816677719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816677719
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The depth and breadth of Atina Diffley's memoir lays bare a dynamic, multi-dimensional landscape of life on the Diffley family farm. But this organic farm is not all peace and tranquility, and this story has cultural tentacles that stretch far beyond the Diffley's personal story. The family is swept into the trajectory and momentum of nature's supplantation by burgeoning development from the city. Education for the Diffley's is not about pontificating the destruction of ecosystems or the cultural phenomenon of displacement. Rather, they are living in the middle of it, reverent to the inter-dependent communities of eco-systems, soil compositions, and multi-generational farm families.

This story is a first person account of intimate relationships with fellow creatures that are literally bulldozed away. The telling is not sentimental or resentful. Rather Atina's voice is matter-of-fact and hopeful, speaking with a compassionate tone that becomes increasingly clear and powerful.

Atina Diffley's memoir is a weave of raw and wholesome truth-telling at it's best. There is always a rumbling under foot that makes this book hard to put down. Atina has discovered a rare and soulful voice of witnessing and foreshadowing our collective survival. She reclaims power and place for our natural world--honoring trillions of species, including humans--as she compassionately speaks and educates toward conscious, mutually sustainable development.

"Turn Here Sweet Corn" is a personal story that masterfully articulates the grief inherent in forcible transplantation, and the uprooting of our deep soul connection with the earth. But you don't have to be an organic farmer or consumer (or even sympathetic to the cause) to laugh and cry your way through Atina's story.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It covers love, joy, drama, success, work, disappointment, etc. All that you could ask for in a good read. And it's true, every bit of it, with characters NOT easily forgetable... It's really a love story, between a woman with an enormous passion for the land, and how she finds her footing in Minnesota soil, and discovers its' endless possibilities for wonderful fabulous organic foods. Atina Diffley is a beautiful writer, poetic yet straight shooting, and she has written her lifestory with a fierce passion much like the hard work she devoted to her farming. Anybody would love this book..it's got EVERYTHING! Five Stars! You betcha.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Diffley isn't just an author or an organic farmer; she certainly isn't just a community-wired advocate for farmer's rights and she sure isn't just a grandma--she's all of these things and a whole bushel-full more.

I think perhaps the best way to describe Turn Here Sweet Corn is to consider it in terms of a wind--a wind with all the power to knock you over and, at the same time, caress you with warmth. Everyone should experience this book; the writing will blow you away.

Atina, changed her name after caring for an amazing woman who played a crucial role in the force that's Atina Diffley. Though now past away, Atina learned from her aged companion how to find strength in even the toughest times. Author Diffley struggled through a difficult marriage but evolved into a loving partnership with one of the first people to actually see her; Martin Diffley. Through their relationship with not only the land, but all that it can provide, they created a world around a single belief; grow it and they will come.

Welcome to Garden's of Eagan.

Like all gardens there are weeds--weeds with clever roots that can take over in a single season. But if you create a plan and embrace the weeds, anything is possible. Everything. Turn Here Sweet Corn is not just a memoir, it's a thriller, it's a romance and boy is it packed with mystery. And near the end (which is really the beginning) there's a twist that will give you something we all yearn for; hope.

"In the morning, when I awake, my first thought is: You can soar. Always remember this."

One of the many messages woven throughout Turn Here Sweet Corn is that organic farming is work. Endless, exhausting, consuming, work.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was used for a community read in preparing our community to help support a food coop. I was pleased that the writing skill made all the information and story-telling so appealing. It's down to earth, but very full of knowledge and wisdom...much from experience in the dirt, but also getting educated in more formal ways. Many human qualities were displayed as life got lived becoming organic farmers. I'll probably read it next spring to get my green juices flowing for another growing season.
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Format: Hardcover
What a surprise! Atina Diffley's memoir celebrates the interconnectedness and ecology of lives, histories, plants, animals, soil, air and water with a passion and tempo that astonished me. As her story unfolds and the reader comes to know this remarkable and passionate woman the power of her story and her storytelling make sense: this book is the product of deep conviction and experience. Yet she has a light touch and humor sprouts in the most unexpected places.

With it's fast pace, grace and humor I hope this book finds a wide audience. There is nothing more basic than food and water and this book engages the reader in many of the complexities of those basics in industrialized America. Through her narrative Diffley brings these issues to life and reveals their day-to-day workings and consequences, particularly the significance of place, relationships and community to the food we eat.

I didn't expect to be so instantly engaged - at times I laughed aloud, but there were tears in my eyes at the end. There is love, passion and good to savor here. Thank you, Atina.
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