***Update 3/28/2011: Congratulations to Lisa Beuning for winning a copy of the book! And thank you to everyone who participated in our first giveaway, I hope to do many more in the future!***
We finally got round to watching The King’s Speech on the big screen earlier this week. I have no idea what took us so long to catch this masterpiece of a movie with its brilliant acting, intelligent screenplay and amazing cinematography. I thought Geoffrey Rush delivered an Oscar-worthy performance too, but when you share the spotlight with someone who stammers as well as Colin Firth, I guess you’re in for some tough competition.
The story got me thinking about the importance of our voice as a tool for self-expression, whether verbal, visual or written. In any endeavor, it is the voice – also known as style/vision/aesthetic – that makes a piece of work one’s own. This voice has to come from a place of conviction and passion in order to produce content that’s truly compelling.
I recently chanced upon one such creation. Farm Together Now (Chronicle Books) features the voices of 20 independent farmers across the United States who are each doing their part to either improve the environment, feed their communities or change the way the food system works. Usually, they’re doing all three.
Woven together by artist Amy Franchesini, documentary-maker Daniel Tucker and featuring illustrations by Corrine Matesich, each farmer’s story is brought to life by the poignant photographs of San Francisco-based Anne Hamersky.
The product of a cross-country trip in the summer of 2009, we are brought along on a journey that takes us from family farms leading grassroots resistance against conventional farming (Knopik Family Farm in Nebraska and Greeno Acres in Wisconsin) to Intentional Communities in Oregon (Tryon Life Community Farm) and Missouri (Sandhill Community Farm) to Social Justice efforts in Georgia (Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger) and Massachusetts (Nuestras Raices). We read about what City Slicker Farms in Oakland, CA is doing to rejuvenate a desolate urban neighborhood and how David Meyers (On-the-Fly Farm) in Union Pier, MI, turned to gardening as a way to overcome his encounter with police brutality. We learn about modern-day acequia farmers in San Luis, CO, who farm the land the same way their forefathers did in the late 19th-century, creating what social scientists call a “water democracy”.
The Q&A format draws us into each story, and the world of each interviewee, collectively creating a portrait that, in the authors’ words, reflects “the complexity of farming in the United States today”. The challenges faced are candidly presented, yet each tale is one of hope and inspiration, that despite the fractured and overworked state of America’s food supply today, change is possible, and these pages bear testament to that vision.
Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while know that I’m hardly of the ‘giveaway’ variety of bloggers, being extremely picky about the products that I choose to write about on this site. When I find something that truly resonates though, it’s hard to keep it to myself. Like this book, which also happened to be among Grist’s top 10 food books of 2010, as nominated by Michael Pollan. You can read more reviews and get updates about book events on the main site.
So, to win a copy of Farm Together Now, just leave a comment below – about anything, I’m making it easy for you since it’s Beyond the Plate’s first giveaway – by midnight PST on Wednesday, March 16. Winner will be chosen by random.org and I’ll ship anywhere in the world. Also? It wouldn’t hurt to tweet about it if you’re a tweeter.