Love, love, love this book! This is a collection of essays on farm and farmers’ market life in the Sacramento Valley. Written by Mike Madison, the brother of Deborah Madison of the Greens Restaurant fame (a fabulous vegetarian restaurant in SF), this book is an easy, feel good, think a little bit collection. Madison reflects on everything from what it means to be an organic farmer, to the savvy farmers’ market seller, to the unending struggle with gophers, to the ladies’ man who frequents the market and the joys of old tractors. His easy writing style and wide coverage of so many different areas of farming life draw you into the simple life and leave you wishing you too were living off the land. At times a bit of Zen and some political liberalism pops up, but it is simple to overlook that and just enjoy the rural life. All of the essays are short, so you can read just a bit here and there, but I couldn’t put it down.
From Two Economies: (an essay on having a new tractor part designed and built)
Every time I walk past my roller I admire it. It is an unselfconscious piece of industrial art, simple and functional and well built. It works exactly as intended, and every fall and spring when I plant bulbs I roll the beds, making the bulbs comfortable and the gophers uncomfortable. As much as anything, I like that the roller was made for me by someone who appreciated what I was up to, and who had the craft’s-man pride to do beautiful work when something less would had sufficed.
Ulf’s farm was a study in green. There was the lime green of Bibb lettuce and the arctic green of collards and the blackish green of Tuscan kale and the bronze green of mustards and the variegated green of cilantro, and many other shades of green, all set out in long, straight rows. The glowing pointillist dots of chiles and tomatoes and oranges were missing, for ulf did not grow these things. He was a leaf man. He just grew greens.