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The Seasons on Henry's Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm Paperback – December 10, 2010

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Terra Brockman gives the reader a view of the world of the farm, and a glimpse of a greater world of literature and art. With the log of daily activities throughout the year, and interesting recipes, this book offers the reader a bountiful and varied feast. Read it and be joyful that you can take advantage of the produce from Henry's farm without the unending labor."--Joan Richards"Chicago Botanic Garden" (02/01/2010)

"Interlacing vibrant description, thoughtful reflection and mouth-watering recipes, Brockman's book explores and recounts the physical and personal realities of a daily relationship with the land."--Elizabeth Janicek"Radish Magazine" (10/30/2009)

"This literary, yearlong memoir documenting the weeks on a central Illinois sustainable farm is filled with poetry and beauty as well as advocacy and science...This is not a confrontational book that takes on corporate chemical farming. It's a gentle book that points to an alternative path."--Clare Howard"Peoria Journal Star" (10/19/2009)

This is by far the most informative and earnest of the back-to-the-land memoirs; anyone thinking about farming as a way of life should read it. "The Seasons on Henry's Farm" isn t full of peril. It doesn t warn away or beckon hither. It s a sober, cleareyed assessment of what needs to get done, when, how and why. By describing a year s worth of chores on her brother s farm in central Illinois, Brockman give us an excellent idea of how demanding and profoundly rewarding farming can be....Her prose is brisk, yet richly detailed. The chapter on the ice storm that felled a beloved oak, which gave Henry a way to propagate mushrooms, is a marvel of concise wisdom, and so is one called Drakes Mount, for anyone who ever wondered exactly how birds do it. By the time spring arrived, I was eyeing my suitcase and seriously contemplating a stint as an intern. Brockman gives new meaning to the term earth mother. She brooks no nonsense or misplaced sentimentality about life on a farm. She can be eloquent even on the life of swine, watching piglets suckling while the mother sow s grunts and moans turned erotic. And then, in the next line, there s a reference to the hogs we ll butcher that same day. When Henry decides to charge customers for biodegradable plastic bags (and Brockman adroitly explains why even those aren t good), some of his customers are furious. She s wryly funny about how heresy quickly becomes practicality. Brockman is an avid reader: Shakespeare, William Carlos Williams, Marcel Proust and Gabriel Garcia Marquez stride across Henry s fields. And their eloquence rubs off: her descriptions of winter s quiet make you want to try experiencing those grueling summer days on the farm, simply to deserve that rich relaxation when the crops are all in.--Dominique Browning"New York Times Book Review" (06/06/2010)"

"Locavores will appreciate Brockman's book as a testament to sustainable agriculture; those just looking for an engaging read won t be left hungry, either."--Janet Fuller"The Chicago Sun-Times" (11/11/2009)"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Agate Surrey (December 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157284115X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572841154
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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