Farm Together Now Book Launch

| December 18, 2010 | 7 Comments
  • 7 Comments

Farm Together Now book coverGiven the growing interest in small-scale sustainable agriculture and the people who run these farms, it should come as no surprise that books on the subject aren’t far behind.

Earlier this year saw the release of Farmer Jane, East Bay author Temra Costa’s take on female farmers and the role they play in the emerging food movement. That book was followed by Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists by Katherine Leiner, who crisscrossed the country to meet cheese mongers, mushroom foragers, and beekeepers, and shares their stories and recipes in an anthology collection.

Now comes the home-grown Farm Together Now: A Portrait of People, Places, and Ideas for a New Food Movement by Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker (Chronicle Books, hardcover $27.50).

Tucker calls Chicago home, but folks may know San Franciscan Franceschini for her role in the city’s Victory Gardens project. A member of the artist collaborative Future Farmers, Franceschini was approached by Chronicle to, well, chronicle a crucial time in the nascent alternative farming movement.

In the summer of 2009, Franceschini, Tucker and San Francisco-based photographer Anne Hamersky took separate road trips around the country, and logged thousands of miles and hundreds of hours of face time with farmers. This book is the result, a portrait of 20 farms that gives readers a sense of the challenges faced by people pursuing an alternative food system to conventional Big Ag.

The guide, which takes a Q&A interview format, gives immediate voice to a diverse range of farmers and food activists.

Close to home we meet Willow Rosenthal and Barbar Finnin of Oakland’s City Slicker Farms, an urban farm, backyard gardening, and farm stand project in one of Oakland’s most food-challenged areas. Farm Together Now was completed before City Slicker received a massive $4 million dollars in state bond funds to expand their works, a poignant coda to their story, which documents the real hardship of making change in communities with scant funds.

Adelle Martin readies the lettuce for the City Slicker sliding scale market table
Adelle Martin readies the lettuce for the City Slicker sliding scale market table where customers decide if they are a “Free Spirit,” “Just Getting By,” or a “SugarMama/Daddy” and pay accordingly.

Barbara Ann Christian harvests strawberries from a City Slicker Farms project.
Barbar Ann Christian harvests strawberries from a City Slicker Farms project.

Jamori Kelly (left) and Ja'mar Brown (right) pose with a City Slickers Farm delivery trike.
Jamori Kelly (left) and Ja'mar Brown (right) pose with a City Slickers Farm delivery trike.

We also hear from the people who run Freewheelin’ Farm in Santa Cruz, an organic fruit and vegetable producer focused on conservation measures. To that end, farmers Kirstin Yogg, Amy Courtney, and Darryl Wong deliver Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares by bicycle and trailer.

Farmer Darryl Wong of Freewheelin Farm washes arugula.
Farmer Darryl Wong of Freewheelin’ Farm washes arugula.

Franceschini notes that while there’s a growing band of young, modern agrarians in the U.S., there’s also a massive collapse in small ag and the knowledge inherent in small-scale farming.

“My hope with this book is that people take away a sense of urgency and a willingness to support local farmers and get involved intimately with the producers of the food we eat,” says the artist and designer. “I also hope the examples in the book reveal the true cost of food: social, material, and mental.”

Pressed for a thumbnail sketch of sustainable ag, photog Hamersky adds:

“It runs the gamut from window box basil to chickens raised by urbanites on squatted land to biodynamic large-scale production farms that feed thousands of families.” Why now? “We’ve latched on to this movement for many reasons: safer ecology, personal health, deeper community, simpler economy, and plain old deliciousness.”

Hamersky feels that some of the most interesting stories in Farm Together Now come from folks whose families have been conventional farmers for generations who have now embraced sustainable methods of food production, lived and worked on both sides of the issue, and have a lot of wisdom to impart. These trailblazers, she notes, are often living in very conservative communities across the road from lifelong neighbors who don’t easily trust new work methods.

City dwellers, she says, may be surprised at the sophisticated, progressive farm philosophies and business models created in the middle of “nowhere.” Learn more from Franceschini and Hamersky at their upcoming book launch.

Event Info:
Farm Together Now Book Release Party
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
8:00-10:00 p.m.
The Green Arcade
1380 Market Street (at Gough), San Francisco
Live music by Evie Ladin and Suzy Thompson.

[Full disclosure: Hamersky is a professional colleague and long-time friend.]

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Category: books, magazines, newspapers, events, farmers and farms, politics, activism, food safety, sustainability, environment, climate change

About the Author ()

Sarah Henry hails from Sydney, Australia, where she grew up eating lamingtons, Vegemite, and prawns (not shrimp) on the barbie (barbecue). Sarah has called the Bay Area home for the past two decades and remembers how delighted she was when a modest farmers' market sprouted in downtown San Francisco years ago. As a freelance writer Sarah has covered local food people, places, politics, culture, and news for the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, California, San Francisco, Diablo, Edible East Bay, Edible Marin & Wine Country, and Berkeleyside. A contributor to the national food policy site Civil Eats, her stories have also appeared in The Atlantic, AFAR, Gilt Taste, Ladies' Home Journal, Grist, Shareable, and Eating Well. An epicurean tour guide for Edible Excursions, Sarah is the voice behind the blog Lettuce Eat Kale and tweets under that moniker too.
  • http://sonomaonthecheap.com Lisa

    This sounds great, I’m adding it to my reading list!

  • http://chezsven@comcast.net Alexandra

    So inspiring! This book sounds like the perfect Christmas gift for my nephew who is doing grad work in this field at Tufts.

  • Sheryl

    How nice to have a collection of stories like these to bring attention the the importance of local farming.

  • http://www.goodfoodstories.com Casey@Good. Food. Stories.

    LOVE the sliding scale designations at the City Slicker market table. Am I cynical for thinking that would never fly here at the NYC greenmarkets?

  • http://musicroad.blogspot.com Kerry

    sounds like a great book. I’m interested too, becuae Anne Hamersky has photographed several musician friends of mine for album projects.

  • http://www.MyKidsEatSquid.com MyKidsEatSquid

    I’m adding this to my reading list too. Here I am in the suburbs with a garden spot ready to go and I can’t get anything to grow, and here these city slickers can? I’ve gotta try again. Beautiful pictures.

  • Merr

    So interesting…I’ve not read about the sliding scale.