I am a proud customer of Smith Meadows Farm and have been so since we moved back to Arlington in 2002. Having just finished Forrest Pritchard’s narrative of how he saved his family farm, Smith Meadows, I can’t tell you how glad I am that he made the choices that he did. As a mom of a young man who will be launching into adulthood at James Madison University this fall (and who professes a desire to major in English and Philosophy), I totally understand the less than whole-hearted embracing of his decision to choose the farm over a teaching career by his parents. But he persevered and chose not to embrace his parents’ concerns about the choices he was making. Even when his take home from the market was less than an Andrew Jackson. As his customer, I am thrilled that he had the vision and stubbornness to continue to fulfill his dream. My belly, and the bellies of my family, embrace his choices.
Enough about me though. What about the book? And the farm? And let’s not forget about the meat and the pasta?
The book is wonderful. It draws the reader into a coming-of-age tale, or maybe a conquering hero tale, or a straight up historical narrative about family farming in the USA. I am not the English major in the household. I read, I cook, I spend a lot of time bring local food into my home, and preparing it simply for the family. Gaining Ground reinforced the decisions that I make every week. But while I was reading it, I really just wanted to keep reading it, and hoped that dinner would prepare itself :)! The narrative sings, the writing is lyrical, and brings you into the story as it is lived by “Farmer Forrest” and his family. There is hardship and sadness but the story is victorious in the end, as I am sure that you all might have imagined simply by the cover!
In addition, the narrative hinges on a decision to move to farmers’ markets close to DC, specifically the Arlington Courthouse Market. As this is the market that we shopped at when we first returned to DC, listening to the description of the behind-the-scenes market culture is priceless. And if readers have been shopping at Courthouse for the past decade or more, I am sure that you will want to read the book simply to see if you can identify who the vendors are that he describes!
Highly recommended – for those of you like me who eat as much grown locally as possible, and especially for those of you who still buy your meat at the grocery store. Stop, read, and reconsider.