An agricultural revolution is sweeping the land. Appreciation for high-quality food, often locally grown, an awareness of the fragility of our farmlands, and a new generation of young people interested in farming, animals, and respect for the earth have come together to create a new agrarian community. To this group of farmers, chefs, activists, and visionaries, Letters to a Young Farmer is addressed. Three dozen esteemed leaders of the changes that made this revolution possible speak to the highs and lows of farming life in vivid and personal letters specially written for this collaboration. Barbara Kingsolver speaks to the tribe of farmers – some born to it, many self-selected – with love, admiration, and regret. Bill McKibben connects the early human quest for beer to the modern challenge of farming in a rapidly changing climate. Dan Barber traces the rediscovery of lost grains and foodways. Michael Pollan bridges the chasm between agriculture and nature. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree probes the politics of being a young farmer today. Farmer Mas Masumoto passes on family secrets to his daughter-and not-soon-forgotten stories to us all. Other contributors include Temple Grandin, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Wendell Berry, Rick Bayless, and Marion Nestle.
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is on a mission to create a healthy and sustainable food system that benefits us all. A non-profit organisation, Stone Barns Center works to develop a culture of eating based on what farms need to grow to build healthy soil and a resilient ecosystem. In its quest to transform the way America eats and farms, the organisation trains farmers, educates food citizens, develops agroecological farming practices and convenes change makers. Stone Barns Center, 25 miles north of New York City, is home to the celebrated Blue Hill at Stone Barns, under the direction of chef and co-owner Dan Barber, a multiple James Beard award-winner.
Martha Hodgkins is communications director at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. A former editor of Nature Conservancy magazine, she is the editor of In Response to Place: Photographs from The Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places and The Field Guide to The Nature Conservancy.
"Farmers growing food for their communities, grown with sustainable practices and sold at farm stands and nearby farmers markets, this is a trend we all must support for the health of the land and ourselves. This book is a wonderful tribute to those who have volunteered to take hold of the future and nurture it."
– Edible Communities
"In Letters to a Young Farmer, three dozen farmers, chefs, writers, professors, immigrants, gardeners, scientists, activists, Native Americans, and even a Congresswoman, share their stories and lessons. No dry litany, these are passionate voices deeply connected to the earth. With an eye to the future, the letter writers' hands are full of soil, necks brown from working in the elements or foreheads lined from incessant negotiations about farm issues. There's no other compilation with such a breadth of knowledge, deep traditions, and forward thinkers involved in raising the food we eat .Alice Waters, Chez Panisse founder, cookbook author, and food activist [...] writes that, 'Taste will truly wake people up and bring them back to their senses and back to the land.' Letters to a Young Farmer is full of that awakening and we need it more than ever."
– Edible San Diego
"The book is a call to arms not only for young and would-be farmers, but also for anyone who cares about the food system in general. Although the public's awareness of the issues confronting farmers certainly won't be raised overnight, Letters to a Young Farmer is an important step forward. As [Barbara] Kingsolver writes in one of the first letters, "We need farmers every single day of our lives, beginning to end, no exceptions. We forgot about that for awhile, and the price was immense. Slowly, we're coming back to our senses. Be patient with us. We need you."
"Those writing at the intersection of nature and literature lend their thoughts to Letters to a Young Farmer, an impassioned essay collection for anyone interested in a closer relationship with the environment. Kentucky farmer and poet Wendell Berry and his daughter, the activist Mary Berry, write letters, as does the Kentucky-raised novelist Barbara Kingsolver, who champions dirty coveralls, Southern accents, and women in the field."
– Garden and Gun
"Leaders of the food world, such as farmer Joel Salatin, animal-science professor Temple Grandin, and chef Dan Barber, share wisdom for farmers and eaters. A reminder to support those who are brave enough to nourish us."
– Eating Well Magazine
"Letters to a Young Farmer draws on the collective wisdom of three dozen of the most respected figures in agriculture today, farmers, chefs, writers, philosophers, and activists to answer a single question: "What would would you say to young people just starting out to farm?" The answers range from personal stories to practical advice, including wise reflections on how to grow healthy footman ways that treat land, animals, and people with respect."
"The message in Letters to a Young Farmer is that farming is hard, important, and needs to be taken seriously and thoughtfully (though with appropriate humor). Farmers, young and old, are speaking up for themselves, and everyone who eats can learn something from them. The essays form a cohesive vision of contemporary farming, including real solutions for problems such as climate change and jobs in rural areas."
– Library Journal
"Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is committed to "farming for the future", a concept that is explored in Letters to a Young Farmer, a collection of 36 essays written by pillars of the food and farming community including Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan. The inspiring anthology focuses on land stewardship, climate change and advice to fledgling farmers everywhere."
– Edible Aspen