This Blessed Earth by Ted Genoways
A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm

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Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine many who’ll read this book without a personal link to farming to draw them in. But “The Blessed Earth” is a history book, an economics text, even a soap opera of sorts.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

Is there still a place for the farm in today’s America?

The family farm lies at the heart of our national identity, yet its future is in peril. Rick Hammond grew up on a small ranch, and for forty years he has raised cattle and crops on his wife’s fifth-generation homestead in York County, Nebraska, in hopes of passing it on to their four children. But as the handoff nears, their small family farm―and their entire way of life―are under siege. Rising corporate ownership of land and livestock is forcing small farmers to get bigger and bigger, assuming more debt and more risk. At the same time, after nearly a decade of record-high corn and soybean prices, the bottom has dropped out of the markets, making it ever harder for small farmers to shoulder their loans. All the while, the Hammonds are confronted by encroaching pipelines, groundwater depletion, climate change, and shifting trade policies. Far from an isolated refuge beyond the reach of global events, the family farm is increasingly at the crossroads of emerging technologies and international detente. Following the Hammonds from harvest to harvest, Ted Genoways explores this rapidly changing landscape of small, traditional farming operations, mapping as it unfolds day to day. This Blessed Earth is both a concise exploration of the history of the American small farm and a vivid, nuanced portrait of one family’s fight to preserve their legacy and the life they love.

8 pages of illustrations
 

About Ted Genoways

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Ted Genoways served as the editor of The Virginia Quarterly Review from 2003 to 2012, during which time the magazine won six National Magazine Awards. He is a contributing editor at Mother Jones and editor-at-large at OnEarth, and his essays and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, Bloomberg Businessweek, Harper’s, The New Republic, Outside, and The Washington Post Book World. He is a winner of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism and the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is a fourth-generation Nebraskan and currently lives in Lincoln.
 
Published September 19, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company. 232 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math, Computers & Technology. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for This Blessed Earth
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on May 28 2017

Meghan’s back story is especially fascinating, as the author chronicles why she intended to leave farming but ended up pulled back in to the profession. Genoways memorably captures the difficult lives nonindustrial farmers lead in order to feed the world.

Read Full Review of This Blessed Earth: A Year in... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Kim Ode on Sep 15 2017

Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine many who’ll read this book without a personal link to farming to draw them in. But “The Blessed Earth” is a history book, an economics text, even a soap opera of sorts.

Read Full Review of This Blessed Earth: A Year in... | See more reviews from Star Tribune

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Arlo Crawford on Nov 22 2017

Genoways, in addition to his work as a journalist, is also a poet and a biographer of Walt Whitman, but this isn’t a particularly lyrical book. For the most part, it’s a cleareyed and unsentimental look at how farming has become relentlessly optimized by automation...

Read Full Review of This Blessed Earth: A Year in... | See more reviews from NY Times

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