This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm

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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

3 comments on “This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm”

  1. A poetic and timely work by a gifted author. From the very first page of this poetically brilliant work, the reader is drawn into a saga that is at the heart of how civilization came into being. The unsung heroes being farmers, mostly family farms handed down for generation, and it is they who allowed a division of labor so that urban cities could arise in the first place. Presently corporate ownership of land and livestock are but one factor that family farmers must struggle against. Additionally, the onslaught against the blessed land,...

  2. The Wheres and Whys of a critical food source - 4+ I ordered this book after hearing author Ted Genoays interviewed about the work on NPR. It was a terrific interview that emphasized the time Genoways spent with the main subjects of the book--farmer families in Nebraska. At the time, it struck me as a better explanation for what was happening in rural America than "Hillbilly Elegy".The content of the book goes way beyond the radio interview in that Genoways includes a lot of the specifics about the botany and chemistry of...

  3. The farm in Nebraska homesteaded by my great grandfather was sold about 10 years ago as none ... The farm in Nebraska homesteaded by my great grandfather was sold about 10 years ago as none in our family continued in the agricultural business. I currently live in Nebraska. Despite that, I knew precious little about the fields of corn and beans, farm machinery, center pivots, feedlots, and the rest of the farming enterprising one constantly sees as one drive around the state. Though this book purports to be the story of one farm family, and though the individuals described are somewhat...

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