Chelsea Green Publishing

Letter to a Young Farmer

Pages:232 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603587259
Pub. Date February 09, 2017
Paperback: 9781603588065
Pub. Date June 05, 2018

Letter to a Young Farmer

How to Live Richly without Wealth on the New Garden Farm

By Gene Logsdon
Foreword by Wendell Berry

Categories:
Farm & Garden

Availability: In Stock

Hardcover

Available Date:
February 09, 2017

$22.50

Availability: Available for Pre Order

Paperback

Available Date:
May 15, 2018

$18.00

For more than four decades, the self-described “contrary farmer” and writer Gene Logsdon has commented on the state of American agriculture. In Letter to a Young Farmer, his final book of essays, Logsdon addresses the next generation—young people who are moving back to the land to enjoy a better way of life as small-scale “garden farmers.” It’s a lifestyle that isn’t defined by accumulating wealth or by the “get big or get out” agribusiness mindset. Instead, it’s one that recognizes the beauty of nature, cherishes the land, respects our fellow creatures, and values rural traditions. It’s one that also looks forward and embraces “right technologies,” including new and innovative ways of working smarter, not harder, and avoiding premature burnout.

Completed only a few weeks before the author’s death, Letter to a Young Farmer is a remarkable testament to the life and wisdom of one of the greatest rural philosophers and writers of our time. Gene’s earthy wit and sometimes irreverent humor combines with his valuable perspectives on many wide-ranging subjects—everything from how to show a ram who’s boss to enjoying the almost churchlike calmness of a well-built livestock barn.

Reading this book is like sitting down on the porch with a neighbor who has learned the ways of farming through years of long observation and practice. Someone, in short, who has “seen it all” and has much to say, and much to teach us, if we only take the time to listen and learn. And Gene Logsdon was the best kind of teacher: equal parts storyteller, idealist, and rabble-rouser. His vision of a nation filled with garden farmers, based in cities, towns, and countrysides, will resonate with many people, both young and old, who long to create a more sustainable, meaningful life for themselves and a better world for all of us.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Kirkus Reviews-

“An elegant, modern georgic in prose by ‘contrary farmer’ Logsdon (Gene Everlasting, 2013, etc.). Of a piece with the works of Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, and other modern back-to-the-landers, Logsdon’s last book (he died in May 2016) comprises a set of essays addressed to an imagined young person contemplating a life in the fields. ‘There’s no such thing as the American farmer,’ counsels the author at the outset. Instead, there are beet farmers, dairy farmers, flower farmers, marijuana farmers, and even ‘moonshine farmers,’ which makes it difficult to categorize all the different kinds of farmers and to subsume them into any meaningful political organization. The point is that because there is so much diversity in farming, anyone with intelligence, gumption, and stick-to-itiveness shouldn’t be dissuaded from having a go at it. Of course, there are plenty of reasons not to farm, and Logsdon isn’t shy of enumerating the challenges, from the fiscal and physical ones to matters that embrace even the heart: one of his essays concerns how to find a suitable helpmeet out in the sticks, where, as a former seminarian, he discovered ‘there were girls peeking out from behind every crossroads stop sign in the county.’ Times change, but the struggle continues, one aspect of it the corporatization of farming. Oddly, there Logsdon finds an ally in the chain restaurateur Bob Evans, who encouraged those who would listen to invest in biological over mechanical solutions, saying, ‘tractors don’t have babies.’ Logsdon is encouraging without being Pollyannaish, homespun while also sometimes arch: ‘On the occasions when I have had to travel in city traffic, the thought always occurs to me that people who must commute into cities to work spend about as much time just waiting for traffic lights to change as it takes me to write a book.’ From raising cattle to organizing markets, there’s much value here for every aspiring farmer, whose work requires brains along with brawn.”

Foreword Reviews-

"This engaging, conversational book dispenses life advice for farmers and others who seek to live close to the earth. Letter to a Young Farmer is an accumulation of wisdom with a large dollop of humor and a conversational tone that will endear it to almost every audience. The book recalls a conversation with a parent or older family member in that many of its common-sense directives are informed by experience, from the purchasing of land to the management of aggressive rams. But not all the advice here is specific to farmers or 'garden farmers'; general life advice can be extrapolated from discussions of love, finance, and other common-sense aspects of life. Categorizing Letter is tricky at times, perhaps appropriately so, stating that 'contrary farmers,' as the author self-identifies, tend to defy stereotyping. It is philosophical, but it also dispenses concrete advice. Likewise, though it does present useful information, much of this is apocryphal, cast in a slyly humorous way, and even opinionated. For example, the author agrees that climate change is a problem, but he also describes people concerned over the issue as paranoid 'hand-wringers.’ Letter is best read as an inspirational piece. It seems likely to lure many a gardening neophyte to the farm life, though it takes care to stress the difficulty of this path too. Above all, it preaches consistency, locality, and the long view, occasionally contrasting this philosophy with the frantic pace of mainstream modern life. In the book’s worldview, small farming is the key to solving the most serious of our environmental, mental, and physical problems as well as the existential emptiness of consumerism. Yet at the same time, it does not advocate complete abandonment of capitalist modality. Parts of the book recall Buddhist principles of moderation. With its unique point of view, Letter to a Young Farmer is a must-read piece of environmental, agricultural, and social philosophy.”

Booklist-

If Logsdon (1932-2016) had his way, the term contrary farmer would have been every bit as familiar as country farmer. A learned proponent of ‘stay in and stay small' garden farming, Logsdon’s outspoken outlook was completely in opposition to the practices and philosophies of corporate agribusiness. Instead of encouraging farmers to 'go big or get out' by adding more property, more machinery, and more debt, Logsdon championed the idea of working on a more personal scale that allows farmers to appreciate nature and honor tradition while still accepting technology and innovation. In this posthumously published book of essays, Logsdon extols the virtues of finding a good mate, praises the pluck and professionalism of women farmers, and enthuses about the health benefits of a day in the barn. Along with other hard-earned advice about hauling livestock, pasturing chickens, and controlling weeds, Logsdon’s lifetime of farming wisdom is firmly lodged in common sense. Sagacious and sly, practical and poetic, Logsdon’s voice may have been contrarian but it was never condescending.”

“In the midst of our epidemic fear of the future and its so-far predicted emergencies and catastrophes, here is Gene patiently, quietly, with the right touch of merriment, talking about the small, really possible ways of solving our one great problem: how to live on the Earth without destroying it.”—Wendell Berry, from the foreword

Publishers Weekly-

Late Ohioan farmer Logsdon (Gene Everlasting: A Contrary Farmer’s Thoughts on Living Forever) sends a meaningful (though poorly titled) message to up-and-coming homestead farmers. Written during the late stages of an illness that would take the author’s life in 2016, the book stands as his final assertion and rallying cry against the misguided notion, so prevalent at one time, that farmers needed to 'get big or get out.' The book isn’t written in the intimate style of a personal missive as the title suggests; it’s more of an essay collection squarely addressing topics such as small-scale economics, pasture farming, raising sheep, and the 'modern plowgirl,' with practical-minded advice throughout. This work serves as a guiding light and lodestar for farmers facing the modern challenges of any farming operation, large or small.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Logsdon

Over the course of his long life and career as a writer, farmer, and journalist, Gene Logsdon published more than two dozen books, both practical and philosophical, on all aspects of rural life and affairs. His nonfiction works include Gene Everlasting, A Sanctuary of Trees, and Living at Nature’s Pace. He wrote a popular blog, The Contrary Farmer, as well as an award-winning column for the Carey, Ohio, Progressor Times. Gene was also a contributor to Farming Magazine and The Draft Horse Journal. He lived and farmed in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he died in 2016, a few weeks after finishing his final book, Letter to a Young Farmer.

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR

Good Spirits

Good Spirits

By Gene Logsdon

Here we go. Gene "The Contrary Farmer" Logsdon has taken on some controversial subjects in his time, but this time he has bitten off ("sipped on" doesn't sound right) a topic bound to raise strong feelings on both sides of society's moral boundary lines. His subject is alcohol and its traditional role on the family homestead. Not surprisingly, Gene speaks the bare-naked truth, and finds a lot more good than bad to say about booze.

Alcohol has historically played a significant role in agricultural life. In colonial times it was the most "liquid" alternative to hard currency as a means of exchange. Alcohol was the most reliable, safest, and most convenient way to store the grain harvest, and was an integral commodity on nearly every farmstead. Because it was so valued--does this surprise us?--the government muscled in, looking for its own piece of the action. George Washington was the first of many politicians to regulate alcohol as a means to generate revenues and gain political control.

Good Spirits is a rare and brave revisionist view of history. Logsdon is a master at exposing the absurdity of the commonplace. Does it really make sense that the government can make it illegal for us to combine common substances (grain, water, and yeast) on our own property? Can it be true that every war effort in the nation's history has been fueled literally and figuratively by alcohol and the tax revenues it produces? Why must the farmer fund the government that oppresses him?

In between good-natured tirades, Logsdon makes sure the reader learns some valuable lessons. He tells us how to make beer; he teaches the rudiments of distilling; he interviews Booker Noe (patron of America's First Family of bourbon) to tell us how to sip and tell; and he adds lively tales from alcohol's quasi-legitimate past. This is vintage Contrary Farmer: 100-proof, single-barrel select. Good Spirits is outrageous, entertaining, enlightening, and an eye-poppingly interesting, natural and holistic look at the role of alcohol. You will savor this book like a snifter of Calvados, the double-distilled apple brandy of Normandy that evaporates on the tongue like a heavenly ambrosia. Heady stuff, but delicious when consumed in moderation.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Good Spirits

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $24.95

Small-Scale Grain Raising

Small-Scale Grain Raising

By Gene Logsdon

First published in 1977, this book—from one of America’s most famous and prolific agricultural writers—became an almost instant classic among homestead gardeners and small farmers. Now fully updated and available once more, Small-Scale Grain Raising offers a entirely new generation of readers the best introduction to a wide range of both common and lesser-known specialty grains and related field crops, from corn, wheat, and rye to buckwheat, millet, rice, spelt, flax, and even beans and sunflowers.

More and more Americans are seeking out locally grown foods, yet one of the real stumbling blocks to their efforts has been finding local sources for grains, which are grown mainly on large, distant corporate farms. At the same time, commodity prices for grains—and the products made from them—have skyrocketed due to rising energy costs and increased demand. In this book, Gene Logsdon proves that anyone who has access to a large garden or small farm can (and should) think outside the agribusiness box and learn to grow healthy whole grains or beans—the base of our culinary food pyramid—alongside their fruits and vegetables.

Starting from the simple but revolutionary concept of the garden “pancake patch,” Logsdon opens up our eyes to a whole world of plants that we wrongly assume only the agricultural “big boys” can grow. He succinctly covers all the basics, from planting and dealing with pests, weeds, and diseases to harvesting, processing, storing, and using whole grains. There are even a few recipes sprinkled throughout, along with more than a little wit and wisdom.

Never has there been a better time, or a more receptive audience, for this book. Localvores, serious home gardeners, CSA farmers, and whole-foods advocates—in fact, all people who value fresh, high-quality foods—will find a field full of information and ideas in this once and future classic.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Small-Scale Grain Raising

Gene Logsdon, Jerry O'Brien

Paperback $29.95

The Contrary Farmer

The Contrary Farmer

By Gene Logsdon

Gene Logsdon has become something of a rabble-rouser in progressive farm circles, stirring up debates and controversies with his popular New Farm Magazine column, The Contrary Farmer. One of Logsdon's principle contrarieties is the opinion that--popular images of the vanishing American farmer, notwithstanding--greater numbers of people in the U.S. will soon be growing and raising a greater share of their own food than at any time since the last century. Instead of vanishing, more and more farmers will be cottage farming, part-time.

This detailed and personal account of how Logsdon's family uses the art and science of agriculture to achieve a reasonably happy and ecologically sane way of life in an example for all who seek a sustainable lifestyle. In The Contrary Farmer, Logsdon offers the tried-and-true, practical advice of a manual for the cottage farmer, as well as the subtler delights of a meditation in praise of work and pleasure. The Contrary Farmer will give its readers tools and tenets, but also hilarious commentaries and beautiful evocations of the Ohio countryside that Logsdon knows as his place in the universe.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Contrary Farmer

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $25.00

Holy Shit

Holy Shit

By Gene Logsdon

In his insightful new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure-our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure-worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value-but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.

With his trademark humor, his years of experience writing about both farming and waste management, and his uncanny eye for the small but important details, Logsdon artfully describes how to manage farm manure, pet manure and human manure to make fertilizer and humus. He covers the field, so to speak, discussing topics like:

  • How to select the right pitchfork for the job and use it correctly
  • How to operate a small manure spreader
  • How to build a barn manure pack with farm animal manure
  • How to compost cat and dog waste
  • How to recycle toilet water for irrigation purposes, and
  • How to get rid ourselves of our irrational paranoia about feces and urine.

Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Holy Shit

Gene Logsdon, Brooke Budner

Paperback $17.50

AUTHOR VIDEOS

Gene Logsdon's Holy Shit

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping

Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping

By Seth Kroeck

Part of the NOFA guides. This volume covers:

  • Historical roots of cover-crop techniques
  • Thinking beyond this season's cash crop (disease and pest reduction, weed suppression, cash vs. cover crops)
  • What is a good rotation? (mapping the farm, grouping crops, sample groupings)
  • The economics of rotations and cover cropping (organizing your work, reducing labor inputs, land and cover-crop seed costs)

Including on-farm examples and detailed appendices.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Crop Rotation and Cover Cropping

Seth Kroeck, Jocelyn Langer

Paperback $15.95

The Community Food Forest Handbook

The Community Food Forest Handbook

By Catherine Bukowski and John Munsell

Collaboration and leadership strategies for long-term success

Fueled by the popularity of permaculture and agroecology, community food forests are capturing the imaginations of people in neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the United States. Along with community gardens and farmers markets, community food forests are an avenue toward creating access to nutritious food and promoting environmental sustainability where we live. Interest in installing them in public spaces is on the rise. People are the most vital component of community food forests, but while we know more than ever about how to design food forests, the ways in which to best organize and lead groups of people involved with these projects has received relatively little attention.

In The Community Food Forest Handbook, Catherine Bukowski and John Munsell dive into the civic aspects of community food forests, drawing on observations, group meetings, and interviews at over 20 projects across the country and their own experience creating and managing a food forest. They combine the stories and strategies gathered during their research with concepts of community development and project management to outline steps for creating lasting public food forests that positively impact communities.

Rather than rehash food forest design, which classic books such as Forest Gardening and Edible Forest Gardens address in great detail, The Community Food Forest Handbook uses systems thinking and draws on social change theory to focus on how to work with diverse groups of people when conceiving of, designing, and implementing a community food forest. To find practical ground, the authors use management phases to highlight the ebb and flow of community capitals from a project’s inception to its completion. They also explore examples of positive feedbacks that are often unexpected but offer avenues for enhancing the success of a community food forest.

The Community Food Forest Handbook provides readers with helpful ideas for building and sustaining momentum, working with diverse public and private stakeholders, integrating assorted civic interests and visions within one project, creating safe and attractive sites, navigating community policies, positively affecting public perception, and managing site evolution and adaptation. Its concepts and examples showcase the complexities of community food forests, highlighting the human resilience of those who learn and experience what is possible when they collaborate on a shared vision for their community.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Community Food Forest Handbook

Catherine Bukowski, John Munsell

Paperback $24.95

Growing Healthy Vegetable Crops

Growing Healthy Vegetable Crops

By Brian Caldwell

Part of the NOFA Guides. Includes information on:

  • Basic concepts of pest control (host susceptibility, soil health, genetic resistance, ecosystem factors)
  • Practical approaches (crop cultural practices, rescue treatments, special section on mammals and birds, food safety)
  • Farm design for pest reduction (diversity, crop rotation)
  • Unorthodox approaches (farmers out of the box)
  • Identifying pests
  • Crop-by-crop pests and practices

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Growing Healthy Vegetable Crops

Brian Caldwell, Jocelyn Langer

Paperback $12.95

Sowing Seeds in the Desert

Sowing Seeds in the Desert

By Masanobu Fukuoka

The earth is in great peril, due to the corporatization of agriculture, the rising climate crisis, and the ever-increasing levels of global poverty, starvation, and desertification on a massive scale. This present condition of global trauma is not "natural," but a result of humanity's destructive actions. And, according to Masanobu Fukuoka, it is reversible. We need to change not only our methods of earth stewardship, but also the very way we think about the relationship between human beings and nature.

Fukuoka grew up on a farm on the island of Shikoku in Japan. As a young man he worked as a customs inspector for plants going into and out of the country. This was in the 1930s when science seemed poised to create a new world of abundance and leisure, when people fully believed they could improve upon nature by applying scientific methods and thereby reap untold rewards. While working there, Fukuoka had an insight that changed his life forever. He returned to his home village and applied this insight to developing a revolutionary new way of farming that he believed would be of great benefit to society. This method, which he called "natural farming," involved working with, not in opposition to, nature.

Fukuoka's inspiring and internationally best-selling book, The One-Straw Revolution was first published in English in 1978. In this book, Fukuoka described his philosophy of natural farming and why he came to farm the way he did. One-Straw was a huge success in the West, and spoke directly to the growing movement of organic farmers and activists seeking a new way of life. For years after its publication, Fukuoka traveled around the world spreading his teachings and developing a devoted following of farmers seeking to get closer to the truth of nature.

Sowing Seeds in the Desert, a summation of those years of travel and research, is Fukuoka's last major work-and perhaps his most important. Fukuoka spent years working with people and organizations in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States, to prove that you could, indeed, grow food and regenerate forests with very little irrigation in the most desolate of places. Only by greening the desert, he said, would the world ever achieve true food security.

This revolutionary book presents Fukuoka's plan to rehabilitate the deserts of the world using natural farming, including practical solutions for feeding a growing human population, rehabilitating damaged landscapes, reversing the spread of desertification, and providing a deep understanding of the relationship between human beings and nature. Fukuoka's message comes right at the time when people around the world seem to have lost their frame of reference, and offers us a way forward.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Sowing Seeds in the Desert

Masanobu Fukuoka, Larry Korn

Paperback $15.95