There are about 2 million farms in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They’re a big part of American life—not only because they help feed the world, but also because they’re a key part of the country’s identity; it’s not for nothing that the song “America the Beautiful” name-checks “amber waves of grain.” Here are a few books, recommended by Kirkus Indie, which look at the farming experience from different perspectives.
In Freedom Farm (2021), Jennifer Neves relates her early years working hard on a family farm in Freedom, Maine, and her later life living on a nonworking farm elsewhere in the state. Kirkus’ review calls her prose “enticing,” singling out an anecdote about a weed-clearing pig named Priscilla; overall, the book is “a thoughtful, entertaining exploration of the joys and grittiness of country life.”
Home, the Farm (2020), a collection by Laurence J. Sasso Jr., focuses on his own family farm and orchard in Rhode Island over the course of 60 poems. Kirkus’ reviewer calls it a “vivid, visceral portrait of family farm life” and highlights how the poet “deeply grounds his work in the land he knows so well,” telling of “the ‘dark, wet / fertile’ earth and ‘the knife of wind’…and the sunset like ‘a drawstring closing a black satin bag.’ ”
Filmmaker Amy Wu takes a more wide-ranging view of farming in From Farms to Incubators (2021), a companion to her award-winning documentary. She profiles women in a range of agricultural careers, including farm managers, data scientists, and biologists, and shows how they’re revolutionizing farming with new discoveries and innovations. Kirkus’ reviewer notes that the author “makes their activities both intriguing and comprehensible to readers with no knowledge of the agriculture sector.”
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.