A Farm Dies Once a Year

Book Summary

An intimate, gorgeously observed memoir about family and farming that forms a powerful lesson in the hard-earned risks that make life worth living The summer he was thirty-one, Arlo Crawford returned home for the summer harvest at New Morning Farm—seventy-five acres tucked in a hollow in south-central Pennsylvania where his parents had been growing organic vegetables for almost forty years. Like many summers before, Arlo returned to the family farm's familiar rhythms—rise, eat, bend, pick, sort, sweat, sleep. But this time he was also there to change his direction, like his father years ago. In the 1970s, well before the explosion of the farm-to-table and slow food movement, Arlo's father, Jim, left behind law school and Vietnam, and decided to give farming a try. Arlo's return also prompts a reexamination of a past tragedy: the murder of a neighboring farmer twenty years before. A chronicle of one full season on a farm, with all its small triumphs and inevitable setbacks, A Farm Dies Once a Year is a meditation on work—the true nature of it, and on taking pride in it—and a son's reckoning with a father's legacy. Above all, it is a striking portrait of how one man builds, sows, and harvests his way into a new understanding of the risks necessary to a life well-lived.

Read an Excerpt
When I was thirty-one years old, I went home to spend a summer with my mother and father on the farm in Pennsylvania where I grew up. I left Massachusetts in late morning, drove the last part of the turnpike in the early dusk, and left the pavement in full dark. The sign for Anderson Hollow Road was chest deep in trumpet vine and stinging nettle. A rabbit skittered out across the dirt, frantic in the bright headlights and the rising dust. Beyond the trees that lined the road, the gentle fields rolled off toward the creek, and the insects crawled in the grass, and the deer grazed silently.

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My review

I wanted to read this book because while I have never lived on a farm, I have raised chickens and have friends that do have farms and have helped out on them. So I wanted to read this book about farming. Which is what I was under the impression that I was going to get. Yes, I did get some of that when Mr. Crawford returned to his family farm and helped work on it. But I craved more...more details...more farming...more, more, more. What I mean by this is that yes the author did talk about what he had to do on his family's farm but not in lots of details. Not to discredit the author's story about his life and family as not being interesting but I just was looking forward to the farm life than I was really about the childhood or the different jobs and returns that the author took. Plus, this was at times a slow read for me. So you could say that the title of the book was a little deceiving to me.



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