ARC Book Review: The New Farm by Brent Preston
angela | What does it take for a couple of urbanites to pack it up, move to the country, start a farm, and make it a success? The New Farm by Brent Preston details the harrowing, costly and often humorous process he and his wife took to do just that, turning their – well, new farm!—into a going concern over the period of a decade. From weed control (essential!), to pig raising and slaughtering (enlightening!), to the challenges of managing interns and staff, The New Farm gives an insightful look into a process that most of us don’t give much thought to in our day to day lives.
Slightly reminiscent of a James Herriot novel, Preston details humorous stories about events and people in the couples’ life, but with a little more detail than you might expect (I was both nauseated and in stitches about the lengths Preston went to putting some cat-wounded chickens out of their – and his- misery). It also describes the fascinating developments taking place in the farming and food movements in Ontario, as the older generation of farmers moves out and a new crop moves in. As a Torontonian, it was great to read about so many of the people involved in making the local food movement such an interesting scene. It is also a great wake up call for those city-dwellers (including myself, let’s be real!), who talk about pulling up stakes and moving to the country: It’s hard, expensive, and the learning curve is steep. But if you believe Preston, it’s also incredibly rewarding.
You can tell how deeply Preston and his wife appreciate their connection to their community of farming neighbours, chefs, and others. I also noticed that though he described interactions with his more conventional farming neighbours, he never plays into tropes about “hayseeds” or”bumpkins”. While I could have used less commentary on the sensitive feelings of interns, it was great to read the views of an outsider-turned-insider to the local food movement, and fascinating to follow the progression of the farm as a business, as I rooted for them to succeed year over year!
If you dig Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, or other modern authors’ reflections on food and farming, you should add The New Farm to your collection!
today! may 2, 2017