Synopses & Reviews
When the hail starts to fall, Atina Diffley doesn’t compare it to golf balls. She’s a farmer. It’s “as big as a B-size potato.” As her bombarded land turns white, she and her husband Martin huddle under a blanket and reminisce: the one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds; the eleven-inch rainfall (“that broccoli turned out gorgeous”); the hail disaster of 1977. The romance of farming washed away a long time ago, but the love? Never. In telling her story of working the land, coaxing good food from the fertile soil, Atina Diffley reminds us of an ultimate truth: we live in relationships—with the earth, plants and animals, families and communities.
A memoir of making these essential relationships work in the face of challenges as natural as weather and as unnatural as corporate politics, her book is a firsthand history of getting in at the “ground level” of organic farming. One of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest, the Diffleys’ Gardens of Eagan helped to usher in a new kind of green revolution in the heart of America’s farmland, supplying their roadside stand and a growing number of local food co-ops. This is a story of a world transformed—and reclaimed—one square acre at a time.
And yet, after surviving punishing storms and the devastating loss of fifth-generation Diffley family land to suburban development, the Diffleys faced the ultimate challenge: the threat of eminent domain for a crude oil pipeline proposed by one of the largest privately owned companies in the world, notorious polluters Koch Industries. As Atina Diffley tells her David-versus-Goliath tale, she gives readers everything from expert instruction in organic farming to an entrepreneur’s manual on how to grow a business to a legal thriller about battling corporate arrogance to a love story about a single mother falling for a good, big-hearted man.
"In addition to being a charming memoir of love and living off the land, Diffley's debut is a timely tale of modern farming, the growing organic movement, and the problems that arise when urban development runs up against fertile fields. Diffley met her husband Martin when she visited the roadside vegetable stand at his farm, Gardens of Eagan in Minnesota, which had been in his family for five generations. For years, the couple grew organic crops and sold them to food co-ops, until suburban developers encroached upon their land. They soon became 'nomadic farmers,' working fields around town while they searched for a new plot on which to settle. Once they found a new home for Gardens of Eagan, business thrived, but when a letter arrives from notorious Koch Industries explaining their intentions to build a crude oil pipeline through the farm, the Diffleys are more determined than ever to save their livelihood. What ensued was a remarkable legal battle, whose outcome prompted the Diffleys to start Organic Farming Works LLC, an agricultural consulting business. Equal parts anecdote and practical organic farming guide, this book is a powerful testament to the Diffleys' passion for their work and a terrific guide to the trials and tribulations of sticking to the land, sticking to the Man, and going organic. Color & b/w photos. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A master class in organic farming, a lesson in entrepreneurship, a love story, and a legal thriller
In telling her story of working the land, Atina Diffley reminds us that we live in relationships—with the earth, plants and animals, families and communities. A memoir of making these essential relationships work in the face of challenges from weather to corporate politics, this is a firsthand history of getting in at the “ground level” of organic farming.
He already owned and managed two ranches and needed a third about as much as he needed a permanent migraine: thatand#8217;s what Alan Day said every time his friend pestered him about an old ranch in South Dakota. But in short order, he proudly owned 35,000 pristine grassy acres. The opportunity then dropped into his lap to establish a sanctuary for unadoptable wild horses previously warehoused by the Bureau of Land Management. After Day successfully lobbied Congress, those acres became Mustang Meadows Ranch, the first government-sponsored wild horse sanctuary established in the United States.
The Horse Lover is Dayand#8217;s personal history of the sanctuaryand#8217;s vast enterprise, with its surprises and pleasures and its plentiful dangers, frustrations, and heartbreak. Dayand#8217;s deep connection with the animals in his care is clear from the outset, as is his maverick philosophy of horse-whispering, with which he trained fifteen hundred wild horses. The Horse Lover weaves together Dayand#8217;s recollections of his cowboying adventures astride some of his best horses, all of which taught him indispensable lessons about loyalty, perseverance, and hope. This heartfelt memoir reveals the Herculean task of balancing the requirements of the government with the needs of wild horses.
For more than forty years the prairies of South Dakota have been Dan OBriens home. Working as a writer and an endangered-species biologist, he became convinced that returning grass-fed, free-roaming buffalo to the grasslands of the northern plains would return natural balance to the region and reestablish the undulating prairie lost through poor land management and overzealous farming. In 1998 he bought his first buffalo and began the task of converting a little cattle ranch into an ethically run buffalo ranch.
Wild Idea is a book about how good food choices can influence federal policies and the integrity of our food system, and about the dignity and strength of a legendary American animal. It is also a book about people: the daughter coming to womanhood in a hard landscape, the friend and ranch hand who suffers great tragedy, the venture capitalist who sees hope and opportunity in a struggling buffalo business, and the husband and wife behind the ranch who struggle daily, wondering if what they are doing will ever be enough to make a difference. At its center, Wild Idea is about a family and the people and animals that surround them—all trying to build a healthy life in a big, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous land.
Ted Kooser sees a writers workbooks as the stepping-stones on which a poet makes his way across the stream of experience toward a poem. Because those wobbly stones are only inches above the quotidian rush, whats jotted there has an immediacy that is intimate and close to life.
Kooser, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a former U.S. poet laureate, has filled scores of workbooks. The Wheeling Year offers a sequence of contemplative prose observations about nature, place, and time arranged according to the calendar year.
Written by one of Americas most beloved poets, this book is published in the year in which Kooser turns seventy-five, with sixty years of workbooks stretching behind him.
About the Author
Atina Diffley is an organic vegetable farmer who now educates consumers, farmers, and policymakers about organic farming through the consulting business Organic Farming Works LLC, owned by her and her husband, Martin. From 1973 through 2007, the Diffleys owned and operated Gardens of Eagan, one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest. In 2008 they sold the Gardens of Eagan name and equipment to the Wedge Community Co-op in Minneapolis, who began leasing the land for organic vegetable production. At the end of a 5-year lease, the Wedge will move the Gardens of Eagan to their own farmland and the Diffleys will use their land for research, outreach, seed breeding, and incubating beginning farmers. To contact Atina or Martin Diffley, visit www.organicfarmingworks.com.
Table of Contents
Cold, Hard Water
My Name Is Tina
It’s Not Here
The Other Has My Heart
Forward through Fire
Past in the Present
Spring’s Fault, 1985
Rock and Bird
Health Is True Wealth
Drought of ’88
What to Hold on To
Subsoil Is the Mineral Base
If Soil Is Virgin
Spring Covenant, 1994
The Real World of Fresh Produce
Living in the Relative Present
Looking to the Future
Kale versus Koch
Definitely Not Fungible
Soil versus Oil
Hail Thaws into Life