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Letter to a Young Farmer: How to Live Richly Without Wealth on the New Garden Farm

by Gene Logsdon Chelsea Green Publishing
Pub Date:
Hbk 232 pages
AU$37.99 NZ$39.12
Product Status: In Stock Now
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For more than four decades, the self-described “contrary farmer” and writer Gene Logsdon has commented on the state of American agriculture. In Letter to a Young Farmer, his final book of essays, Logsdon addresses the next generation - young people who are moving back to the land to enjoy a better way of life as small-scale “garden farmers.” It’s a lifestyle that isn’t defined by accumulating wealth or by the “get big or get out” agribusiness mindset. Instead, it’s one that recognizes the beauty of nature, cherishes the land, respects our fellow creatures, and values rural traditions. It’s one that also looks forward and embraces “right technologies,” including new and innovative ways of working smarter, not harder, and avoiding premature burnout.


Completed only a few weeks before the author’s death, Letter to a Young Farmer is a remarkable testament to the life and wisdom of one of the greatest rural philosophers and writers of our time. Gene’s earthy wit and sometimes irreverent humor combines with his valuable perspectives on many wide-ranging subjects - everything from how to show a ram who’s boss to enjoying the almost churchlike calmness of a well-built livestock barn.


Reading this book is like sitting down on the porch with a neighbor who has learned the ways of farming through years of long observation and practice. Someone, in short, who has “seen it all” and has much to say, and much to teach us, if we only take the time to listen and learn. And Gene Logsdon was the best kind of teacher: equal parts storyteller, idealist, and rabble-rouser. His vision of a nation filled with garden farmers, based in cities, towns, and countrysides, will resonate with many people, both young and old, who long to create a more sustainable, meaningful life for themselves and a better world for all of us.


Preface-á -á

1. No Such Thing as "The" American Farmer

2. It's All About Money, Even When It Isn't-á-á

3. The Decentralization of Nearly Everything-á

4. The Ripening of Our "Rurban" Culture

5. The Barns at the Center of the Garden Farm Universe-á

6. Backyard Sheep

7.-á Hauling Livestock: The Test of Your Will to Farm

8. The Cow Stable: Health Spa of the Future

9. The Rise of the Modern Plowgirl

10. Finding and Keeping a Garden Farm Partner

11. Big Data and Robot Farming-á-á

12. The Invasion of the Paranoids

13. One Cow's Forage Is Another Cow's Poison

14. Pasture Farming as Part of Garden Farming

15. The Wild Plant Explorers

16. The Most Stubborn Farmer-á

17. Have We Deflowered Our Virgin Soils?

18. The Resurrection of a Really Free Market-á

19. Artisanal Food in the New Age of Garden Farming

20. Why Fake Steak Won't Rule the Meat Market-á

21. The Homebodies

22. If Michelangelo Had to Drive to Work

23. A Fable About the End of "Get Big or Get Out"-á

24. The Real Background Behind the Death of Industrial Agriculture

25. In Praise of Rural Simplicity, Whatever That Is


If Logsdon (1932-2016) had his way, the term contrary farmer would have been every bit as familiar as country farmer. A learned proponent of ‘stay in and stay small' garden farming, Logsdon’s outspoken outlook was completely in opposition to the practices and philosophies of corporate agribusiness. Instead of encouraging farmers to 'go big or get out' by adding more property, more machinery, and more debt, Logsdon championed the idea of working on a more personal scale that allows farmers to appreciate nature and honor tradition while still accepting technology and innovation. In this posthumously published book of essays, Logsdon extols the virtues of finding a good mate, praises the pluck and professionalism of women farmers, and enthuses about the health benefits of a day in the barn. Along with other hard-earned advice about hauling livestock, pasturing chickens, and controlling weeds, Logsdon’s lifetime of farming wisdom is firmly lodged in common sense. Sagacious and sly, practical and poetic, Logsdon’s voice may have been contrarian but it was never condescending.”

Gene Logsdon - Over the course of his long life and career as a writer, farmer, and journalist, Gene Logsdon published more than two dozen books, both practical and philosophical, on all aspects of rural life and affairs. His nonfiction works include Gene Everlasting, A Sanctuary of Trees, and Living at Nature’s Pace. He wrote a popular blog, The Contrary Farmer, as well as an award-winning column for the Carey, Ohio, Progressor Times. Gene was also a contributor to Farming Magazine and The Draft Horse Journal. He lived and farmed in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he died in 2016, a few weeks after finishing his final book, Letter to a Young Farmer