Illinois is known for its vast fields of corn and soybeans. But nestled in the Mackinaw River Valley, somewhere in between the cities of Peoria and Bloomington, lays Henry’s Farm. The farm is small and diversified with more than 650 varieties of produce being grown each year on 10 acres of land—a stark contrast to the monocrops seen elsewhere throughout the state.
Henry’s sister Terra Brockman describes the rhythms of the farm in her book The Seasons on Henry’s Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm (2009). Among the many other food and farming memoirs, this book stands out.
Like the fine mixes of mesclun she describes, Brockman’s book is a beautiful blend. Accounts of planting, harvesting and growing are mixed with childhood memories, family history, and some simple recipes. E.B. White, Shakespeare, Robert Frost and others also appear throughout the text.
Although Henry’s Farm is organically managed, Brockman doesn’t demonize conventional agriculture. Instead she focuses on the inherent values of sustainable farming by discussing biology, ecology, and natural history.
Nominated for a 2010 James Beard Award, Brockman’s yearlong account is captivating. As you read, you’ll practically feel the sweat on your brow, smell the soil on your hands, and taste the produce on your tongue.
Thanks to Agate Publishing for providing a review copy upon request!