According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are approximately 2 million farms in the United States. They are a huge part of American life – not only because they help feed the world, but also because they are an important part of the country’s identity; it’s not for nothing that the song “America the Beautiful” checks the name “amber waves of grain”. Here are a few books, recommended by Kirkus Indie, that look at the farming experience from different perspectives.
In freedom farm (2021), Jennifer Neves recounts her early years working hard on a family farm in Freedom, Maine, and her later life on a non-working farm elsewhere in the state. Kirkus’ review calls her prose “seductive,” picking out an anecdote about a weed-clearing pig named Priscilla; overall, the book is “a thoughtful, entertaining exploration of the joys and grittiness of country life.”
Home, the farm (2020), a collection by Laurence J. Sasso Jr., focuses on his own family farm and orchard in Rhode Island over the course of 60 poems. Kirkus’ reviewer calls it a “vibrant, entrenched portrait of family farm life” and emphasizes how the poet “grounds his work deeply in the land he knows so well”, telling of “the ‘dark, wet/fertile’ earth and ‘the blade of wind’… and the sunset as ‘a cord closing a black satin bag’.”
Filmmaker Amy Wu takes a broader view of agriculture in From farms to incubators (2021), a companion to her award-winning documentary. She profiles women in a variety of farming careers, including farm managers, data scientists and biologists, showing how they are revolutionizing farming with new discoveries and innovations. Kirkus’ reviewer notes that the author “makes their activities both intriguing and understandable to readers with no knowledge of the agricultural industry.”
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor†