In a recent Grist article, Michael Pollan named Farm Together Now: A Portrait of People, Places, and Ideas for a New Food Movement (2010) his “favorite book of the season.” This powerful and inspirational book deserves every bit of praise.
In the book, authors Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker give a voice to individuals working at the grassroots level to improve food throughout the United States. They specifically profile twenty projects of varying nature and, through interviews, highlight the diverse work being done by farmers, activists, social workers, and environmentalists.
The interview style allows you to interact with the featured individuals on an intimate level. You’ll directly learn about the hopes, fears and accomplishments of people such as the founders of Participation Park in Baltimore–where a vacant lot is now being used to grow food and revive the surrounding, impoverished community. Some of the people, like Myles Harston of AquaRanch, have created model systems or initiatives that are now being replicated. Others are working to foster the next generation of farmers through education and training. The portraits also demonstrate that although the rewards can be great, the challenges are many. Financial and policy barriers, for example, often impede efforts.
The growers also get to share their stories visually through Anne Hamersky‘s talented photojournalism. She beautifully captures the raw joy, determination and satisfaction of the people and places of Farm Together Now. The images that accompany each profile speak as loudly as the interviews.
Everyone needs to eat, and these stories illustrate how food issues permeate all aspects of society. Read Farm Together Now and get to know those who are making great strides towards improving access to clean, healthy food, achieving social and environmental justice, and preserving food and farming traditions. You’ll gain a greater understanding of the impact individual efforts can have on improving our food system. An even greater impact can be made if we work to farm together–now!
Buy this book instead of borrowing from your library, if you can. Fifty percent of the profits will help fund “new documentaries about food production in the United States” (189). Contest update: Thanks to everyone who participated and congratulations to our randomly selected winner Bonnie Schulz. Lookout for more giveaways in the future!
You might also like: Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat by Temra Costa