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This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm Hardcover – April 25, 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet Chaskey, former head of the organic Quail Hill Farm on Long Island's South Fork, gives a sprightly account of "the education of a gardener become farmer, representing a committed community" as well as "the challenges faced by all small farms, enlivened by a wind from the sea." As this chronicle of a year at Quail Hill shows, Chaskey loves the way of life at the farm—a cousin to the more than 1,500 CSA (community supported agriculture) farms now in the U.S., dedicated to community and providing locally grown produce. The delight of his writing is his balancing of the poetry of farm life—as when he looks up "to catch the liquid flight of swallows" and "the music of wind as it weaves a thread through the brambles"—with touches of humor, such as his amazement that "our cabbages continue to grow to epic proportions." He also effectively summarizes the "critical juncture" at which the organic farming movement finds itself as a result of recent federal legislation governing organic foods. His book will be a joy to read for lovers of organic farming, and it also offers a strong argument to the general public that, with careful management of the soil, "everyone, the haves and the have-nots, [can] gain access to land and good food." B&w illus. Agent, Paul Bresnick.(Apr. 25)

From Booklist

Chaskey is the head farmer at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, New York. This organic community farm on the eastern tip of Long Island is one of 1,500 community-supported agricultural farms in the country. At Quail Hill Farm they grow food for more than 200 families and supply food to restaurants, a school, and food pantries. Members visit the farm twice a week from June through October, where they grow potatoes, carrots, herbs, radishes, kale, collard greens, eggplants, tomatoes, corn, beans, and other crops. Chaskey tells of his love for such diverse things as migratory monarch butterflies, milkweed pods, earthworms, cicadas, beetles, swallows, and crows. He maintains that "Quail Hill Farm is in the best sense a communal response to the preservation needs of a seaside place, an attempt to create and conserve what Aldo Leopold, the author of A Sand County Almanac (1968), calls 'a state of harmony between men and land.'" Chaskey's reverence for the land and its creatures is rare in today's society. We should all follow in his footsteps. George Cohen
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st edition (April 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670034290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670034291
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,525,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By John Matlock on June 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A story of love and frustration in building a farm that grows products organically.

It's clear that the love drives Mr. Chaskey to farming, watching things grow, watching the seasons turn. The poet in him makes his prose read like this love -- 'Last night our fields felt the first light touch of Jack Frost.'

The frustration also comes through, especially as he talks about new gtovernment rules -- To qualify as organic compost must be turned a total of five times within a fifteen-day period and you must prove that the temperature inside the pile was between 131 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for the period. --Who turns compost every three days.

This book is the story of the changing seasons on an organic farm in New York. It is not an instruction book on farming, it is an ode to organic farming.
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Format: Paperback
I have to begin this review by taking note of the delicious irony of finding this slender little gem of a book at my local supermarket, as the essence of this story is an ode to the slow food movement and the community-supported agriculture (CSA) efforts that have been gaining steam around the country over the course of the last decade or so. Definitely not supermarket material.

The author is Scott Chaskey, farmer/poet emeritus of Long Island's Quail Hill Farms, one of the oldest CSA groups in New York State. His text reads like a set of short journal entries, carrying the reader through an entire cycle of seasons on the farm. His prose is beautiful and descriptive, with occasional hints of verse adding depth and color to the proceedings. Chaskey's love of Nature (with a capital N for sure) comes through loud and true, as does the book's central theme of living in harmony with the Earth and her gifts.

It's never explicitly stated, but there's a real neo-Pagan feel to this book, especially in the way that it follows the seasons and the wheel of the year. Chaskey is definitely in touch with his inner Druid, his connection to the land and it's flora and fauna making him an effective advocate for organic farming and the CSA model.

HIGHLY recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was a very sweet description of life at a organic farm. It brought to life ideas and processes that must happen every year or helpful hints on what makes this gardening adventure easier. You can feel the joy and effort he has put into the farm and also the challenges. He gives a glimpse of the organic association, and what it means to be organic. Chaskey generously lets us learn from his mistakes. The wholesome roots of farming are embraced by this book, I loved it.
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Format: Paperback
"The Best Plants Come with a story."
--Maria Rodale

Catalogues sometimes contain the stuff that dreams are made of. On Quail Hill the selection of seeds from catalogues represents the dreams of life, life with hopes of blossoming on an organic farm in Amagansett, NY. Scott Chaskey, a self-described "holistic" farmer, shares the seasons and the songs of farm life in his marvelously eloquent book, This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm.

More than fifteen years ago a small coterie of families met to form the Quail Hill farm. They would come to share the land and the production of organic vegetables, fruit and flowers amongst themselves and with the indigenous wildlife in the area. With a rare poetic ambience with nature, the author leads the reader though the day to day, season to season workings of the farm from the tilling of the soil to the taste on the palate. He travels with the poet in his heart and introduces, or reintroduces as the case may be, to the likes of Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Whitman, Keats, Yeats and others.

In one way or another we are all dependent, albeit some more than others, on the survival of the small farm. Perhaps the philosophy of Chasky can be summed up in one small sentence from the Earth Charter: "The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure water, and clean air." His love of life, friends, family and farm (organic that is) embrace this charter for all of us ... on a small plot of land on Quail Hill farm, Amagansett, NY, USA, World.

One needn't be an organic farmer nor one who "lives beyond the sidewalks to enjoy this book.
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