By Shuan Butcher, Journey Through Hallowed Ground
When Forrest Pritchard, a seventh-generation farmer in Virginia, published “Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm” in 2013, a book about his adventures building his family’s failing farm back into a successful business, his story struck a chord with readers all over the country. The book became a New York Times bestseller, NPR’s The Splendid Table named it #1 on their list, and it was picked as a top read by The Washington Post. In addition, Publishers Weekly called Pritchard “an important new spokesperson of the future of agriculture and poet of the earth” and the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Pritchard is a keen observer and tells his story with frank good humor.”
Upon such feedback Pritchard asked himself, “If one small farm could inspire such a response, what might happen if we multiplied that number?” He envisioned a “farmer’s market dream team,” whose different faces and stories, united, would capture the trajectory of sustainable agriculture in America. He set off with photographer and fellow farmer Molly M. Peterson, traveling across the country for one year to speak with farmers who, inspired by the promise of sustainable farming, are making viable livelihoods against the odds.
Now, in his new book, Pritchard chronicles the stories of eighteen visionaries—from suburban vegetable farmers and free-range livestock ranchers to urban beekeepers gathering honey on top of Dallas skyscrapers. Some have rejuvenated generations-old farms and some have put down new roots, but all candidly share their setbacks and failures, the daily risks and the unpredictable challenges—and why it’s all worth it.
Each farmer contributed his or her favorite recipes (fifty in the book), offering up the best ways to cook the produce that they work so hard to grow. Over two hundred of Peterson’s breathtaking and engaging photos complete the portraits of these American heroes. Renowned chef and cookbook author Deborah Madison wrote the book’s foreword.
“Growing Tomorrow” is both a farm-inspired cookbook and an enlightening homage to the people who provide America with delicious, fresh food—from a citrus grove in California to a sustainable fishery on Cape Cod. It’s also a call to action: Pritchard and Peterson hope to bolster the movement towards eating locally and sustainably grown foods, visiting farmer’s markets, subscribing to CSA programs, and even growing one’s own vegetables.
Pritchard is a full-time organic farmer who holds degrees from the College of William & Mary. His farm, Smith Meadows located in Berryville (Va), was one of the first “grass-finished,” free-range endeavors in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington, D.C. for more than fifteen years. The primary blogger for the Facebook page “I Support Farmers’ Markets,” the largest online farmers’ market fan page, he is also a popular public speaker, having given addresses at RAND, Texas Organic Farmers Association, and Weston A. Price International, among others.
Pritchard will speak about his book “Growing Tomorrow: A Farm to Table Journey in Photos and Recipes- Behind the Scenes with 18 Extraordinary Sustainable Farmers Who Are Changing the Way We Eat” at a program sponsored by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership and Piedmont Environmental Council on Monday, December 14th. The event, which starts at 7:00 p.m., will take place at The Haven, located at 12 Market Street in Charlottesville. The event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase and signing. For more information, or to rsvp for the event, visit www.HallowedGround.org or call 540-882-4929.