Winter is a season of rest on our farm. The animals are in the barn. The garden is covered in snow. Most of our projects are put on hold until the temperatures allow us to work outside without freezing our fingers off. With the lighter workload comes some additional time to pursue our own interests. For my husband and son, that means tapping maple trees and boiling sap on our mini evaporator. For me, that means catching up on some reading. There’s absolutely nothing I love more than to curl up with a book and a mug of hot cocoa on a cold, grey day.

Since we are in our off season and there isn’t much to report in the way of farm updates, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads with you all. (They all have something to do with agriculture, of course). In no particular order, here are the best books that I have read this winter:

Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-Changing Egg Farm – From Scratch by Lucie B. Amundson was given to me by a customer several years ago. This book chronicles the true tale of a Minnesota couple’s struggle to get a start-up pasture-raised egg farm off the ground (with no previous agricultural experience). With a strong dose of humor, the author illustrates the challenges of breaking into agriculture, and the need for more small and medium sized farms in America.

The Art and Science of Grazing: How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems by Sarah Flack is a fantastic resource for anyone who grazes animals of any shape or size. This book contains a wealth of information to help farmers design or improve pasture management for the good of the soil, the plants, the animals, and the farm’s bottom line. Despite being somewhat technical, this book is an easy read, and includes lots of case studies of real, working farms that have put the author’s principles into practice and obtained excellent results.

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin is such an uplifting read despite dealing with some heavier subjects. In a rural Oregon town, three strangers find healing in their unlikely friendship and unite to save the county’s honeybees from a deadly new pesticide. This book is particularly relevant today because New York just passed the Birds and Bees Protection Act late in 2023, enacting the nation’s strictest limitations on the use of neonicotinoid chemicals. We are proud to say that our farm was very involved in pushing this piece of legislation forward.

The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson was another one that I just couldn’t put down. This novel weaves together the lives of four generations of Dakh├│ta women, united by the gardens that sustain them and their families. Through their stories, readers learn about the destruction of Native American lands and communities that is ongoing to this day. Despite these great injustices, the author manages to plant the seeds of change and hope for a better future.

Half Baked Harvest Everyday: Recipes for Balanced, Flexible, Feel-Good Meals by Tieghan Gerard has been getting a lot of love in my kitchen lately. Included are recipes for breakfasts, appetizers and sides, soups and salads, pasta and pizza, vegetarian dishes, chicken dishes, beef dishes, fish and seafood dishes, and desserts. The author focuses on using wholesome, minimally processed ingredients, which aligns nicely with the locavore mindset.

If you’re interested in reading any of the books mentioned above, please consider purchasing them through Bookshop.org instead of ordering them from a big retailer like Amazon. Bookshop.org is an awesome website that allows you to support the independent bookstores near you. (As an affiliate, I earn a small percentage on every book ordered through my profile.) You can also buy used copies of these books or find them at your local library, if you prefer.

2 thoughts on “What the Farmer’s Reading in 2024

  1. Hi Laura. Enjoyed talking with you this morning and planning our trip to the farm on May 16 – so excited to visit and meet you, Brandon, Ivan and all the animals!
    Love your website, very informative.
    See you all in May,
    Amy & Jim Bertram

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