This Blessed Earth
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.

This Blessed Earth Details

TitleThis Blessed Earth
Author
ReleaseSep 19th, 2017
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
ISBN-139780393292572
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Economics, Food and Drink, Food, Science, Adult, Foodie

This Blessed Earth Review

  • Rebecca Foster
    January 1, 1970
    For the Hammonds, a Nebraska farming family, the 2014 harvest season started with a perfect storm of perilous circumstances: a spell of good weather led to nationwide crop overproduction and surpluses, which caused a drop in projected prices; then heavy late-summer rains delayed the harvest. Genoways, whose family roots are in farming, followed Rick Hammond’s family and workers over one critical year, October 2014 to October 2015. He vividly conveys the rhythms of farming and reflects on the his For the Hammonds, a Nebraska farming family, the 2014 harvest season started with a perfect storm of perilous circumstances: a spell of good weather led to nationwide crop overproduction and surpluses, which caused a drop in projected prices; then heavy late-summer rains delayed the harvest. Genoways, whose family roots are in farming, followed Rick Hammond’s family and workers over one critical year, October 2014 to October 2015. He vividly conveys the rhythms of farming and reflects on the historical shifts that have brought it to a point of crisis. The book’s niche subject could limit its readership. However, if you enjoy books by Wendell Berry and Michael Pollan, you’re likely to appreciate this. It’s a unique combination of group biography, history, and science and tempers worry with optimism, showing that farming is a threatened yet resilient way of life. See my full review at BookBrowse. (See also my article on the Keystone XL Pipeline.)
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  • Roxanne
    January 1, 1970
    This is a Goodreads win review. I may not have enjoyed this book so much when I lived in Palm Springs, CA for 38 years. In the part I lived in we only grew tourists. Down they grow figs, dates, grapefruit and other crops. The reason I really liked this book is because I now live in Kansas and when I have been driving all over the state I have seen cotton, soybeans, wheat , corn, melons, peaches growing. We also have cow farms and raise cattle. When I went to Dodge City the trolley took us to the This is a Goodreads win review. I may not have enjoyed this book so much when I lived in Palm Springs, CA for 38 years. In the part I lived in we only grew tourists. Down they grow figs, dates, grapefruit and other crops. The reason I really liked this book is because I now live in Kansas and when I have been driving all over the state I have seen cotton, soybeans, wheat , corn, melons, peaches growing. We also have cow farms and raise cattle. When I went to Dodge City the trolley took us to the countryside and showed where the cattle are raised. We are in the agriculture belt. This book is about a farmer in Nebraska and 4o years he has raised cattle and crops on his wife's fifth generation farm. But his dream of passing the farm down is becoming in danger. They have to fight corporations, pipelines are wanting to be built, the marketplace has a lot of competition , and trade policies are changing. This author follows The Hammonds farm from harvest to harvest seeing how traditional farming operates. I hope the legacy of farming can continue. The book has nice photographs also which a non-farmer could understand this way of life better. We have a 1/2 acre ourselves and we grow crops too but on a smaller scale and we can eat fresh out of the backyard.
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  • Anna Marie Jonas
    January 1, 1970
    I have even more respect for the men and women who farm after reading this book. A possible water crisis addressed in the book is troubling, though.
  • Deb M.
    January 1, 1970
    If you have any interest in finding out what a farmer's life is really like you will get a lot out of this book.
  • Valerie Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    This was a good book. It had lots of interesting things that I learned about living and making a farm work. The family was also a good part of the story.
  • Esther
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting and fascinating.
  • Brenda Marean
    January 1, 1970
    Heard the author on Terri Gross interview; having recently read most of Willa Cather this winter I was intrigued to learn how life in Nebraska is today. The book is fascinating , well researched and developed. Unfortunately the folks of today are mechanized to an amazing degree but the stressors of the Mid 1800’s are no different. Really enjoyed the read,
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