Cover image for Harvest : a year in the life of an organic farm
Harvest : a year in the life of an organic farm
Smith, Nicola, 1960-
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Publication Information:
Guilford, Conn. : Lyon's Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
ix, 274 pages : color illustrations ; 21 cm
Introduction -- The farm -- The family -- The animals -- The land.
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S521.5.V5 S65 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A look at the world of modern farming examines the Fat Rooster Farm, an organic farm whose owners, a married couple, believe strongly in the importance of the land and who combine modern education with time-tested farming techniques.

Author Notes

NICOLA SMITH , a freelance writer, holds an MFA from Columbia University.

GEOFF HANSEN is a photographer and editor at New Hampshire's Valley News and author of My Life As a Dog: The Many Moods of Lucy. His work has appeared in Newsweek, USA Today, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe. They live in Tunbridge, Vermont, with their daughter. You can learn more about the book at

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Writer Smith and her husband, photographer Geoff Hansen, offer this illuminating portrait of one year on another family's small Vermont farm. Organized by season, the chapters follow a couple--who both hold master's degrees in wildlife conservation--through a tough year of farm management. Smith includes plenty of hard statistics about the state of farming in the U.S. And fans of how-to guides such as Karl Schwenke's Successful Small-Scale Farming (1980) will find a wealth of practical advice for starting and maintaining one's own organic agricultural enterprise. There are plenty of cautionary anecdotes, too, including the story of a single raccoon that destroys the majority of the family's salable chickens in just a few weeks. Smith also writes an intimate, unsentimental portrait of the couple's stresses and anxieties, brought on both by their demanding life as well as their own personality clashes, and it's this close-up view of the private, painful, and real negotiations necessary to keep the farm running that, along with Hansen's fine photographs, may resonate most strongly with readers. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Freelance writer Smith and her husband, photographer Hansen (My Life as a Dog), dispel the "dreamy, nostalgic haze" surrounding urbanites' notions of smallholder agriculture with this detailed look at life on a working farm. For a year, they follow their Vermont neighbors, Jennifer Megeysi and Kyle Jones, through the snow, mud and manure as they work Fat Rooster Farm. Numerous vignettes, illustrated by Hansen's appealing pictures, pile up a wealth of detail about this small organic establishment, which raises both livestock and produce. It's a gritty life: Megeysi and Jones, who also hold jobs off the farm, must deal with murderous raccoons, hypothermic piglets, ducks overdue for slaughter, byzantine food regulations (and the legislators behind them) and their own difficult marriage. More than most writers on farming, Smith is attuned to the people who do it: Megeysi may be one of the most vividly drawn farm women since Letters of a Woman Homesteader. Readers who garden seriously, however, may notice a few inaccuracies, as when Smith calls minuscule garlic shoots "scapes" (the term refers to flowering stalks). And occasionally unruly sentences and a not quite chronological, not quite thematic structure can obscure the larger patterns by which Megeysi and Jones manage their farm. Farming is an intricate, sometimes brutal dance with the land; this book demonstrates most of the moves, but never quite the full performance. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

As agribusiness has taken hold of the nation's food production, the number of family farms has declined sharply. However, a few dedicated and environmentally concerned individuals have chosen to diverge from industrial farming by avoiding loans, bartering services and equipment, forgoing herbicides and chemicals, and refusing to engage in monoculture. Unlike some back-to-the-land books, which offer either a rosy or a humorous glimpse of rural life, this well-written profile of a couple on a 20-acre Vermont organic farm presents a realistic look at the pleasures and enormous difficulties of farming for a living. Freelance writer Smith and photographer Hansen, both neighbors of the couple, depict not only the labor-intensive chores but the countless hours spent selling at farmers' markets and to restaurants and working at part-time jobs to make ends meet. They also show how the financial uncertainties and the heavy workload slowly corrode the couple's marriage. Given its unique and personal focus, this fascinating book will appeal to a wide audience, especially those considering organic farming.-Ilse Heidmann, Washington State Lib., Olympia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.