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The Seasons on Henry's Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm by [Brockman, Terra]
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4.8 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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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.

Review

“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: 6229 KB
  • Print Length: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Agate Surrey (April 28, 2010)
  • Publication Date: April 28, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003P9XC30
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,870 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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