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Just the other week I went out for a coffee with my mother and baby at our local mom and pop shop. On the counter they had several stacks of farming/foody books written by local authors. Gaining Ground caught my eye so I bought a copy and took it home
I loved this book. The author, Forrest Pritchard got a degree in English, so his writing style is much more elegant than you first expect from a farmer, but once you get used to it, his storytelling is enthralling.
Forrest grew up on the family farm, but didn’t really get involved in the business of it until he came back from college and didn’t know what to do with his life. Both of his parents worked jobs outside of the farm and were thousands of dollars in debt, just trying to keep it in the family.
Forrest decided he was going to save the family farm. He started asking questions. He tried and he failed. His book takes you along for the journey. He tries selling firewood and fails. He rejects contemporary cattle farming and succeeds. He tries local farmer’s markets and fails. He finally joins farmer’s markets in DC and succeeds.
The value in Forrest’s story is an oral tradition, knowledge of experience that only a farmer can provide. They can’t write books teaching you how to farm. There are books on keeping cattle, on farmer’s markets, on land management, but there is a priceless value in learning from the experiences of others.
Gaining Ground is a beautifully written, honest journey of a young man, failing and succeeding, to save the family farm. Like many of us, he rejects contemporary ways of doing things, and invests in long-term sustainability. Entertaining and encouraging, this book is highly recommended.