Harvest: An Adventure into the Heart of America's Family Farms

Harvest: An Adventure into the Heart of America's Family Farms

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by Richard Horan
     
 

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Novelist and nature writer Richard Horan embarked on an adventure across America to reveal that farming is still the vibrant beating heart of our nation. Horan went from coast to coast, visiting organic family farms and working the harvests of more than a dozen essential or unusual food crops—from Kansas wheat and Michigan wild rice to Maine potatoes,

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Overview

Novelist and nature writer Richard Horan embarked on an adventure across America to reveal that farming is still the vibrant beating heart of our nation. Horan went from coast to coast, visiting organic family farms and working the harvests of more than a dozen essential or unusual food crops—from Kansas wheat and Michigan wild rice to Maine potatoes, California walnuts, and Cape Cod cranberries—in search of connections with the farmers, the soil, the seasons, and the lifeblood of America.

Sparkling with lively prose and a winning blend of profound seriousness and delightful humor, Harvest carries the reader on an eyeopening and transformational journey across the length and breadth of this remarkable land, offering a powerful national portrait of challenge and diligence, and an inspiring message of hope.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Horan (Seeds) offers an engaging, albeit didactic look at agriculture in America through the microcosm of harvest season at several small family farms. While his eye for the bucolic frequently recalls a nostalgic past and disdains the present, Horan un-self-consciously peppers his sharp observations with jarring platitudes that remove the reader from the task at hand. His paternalistic liberalism paints immigrant field workers as “ignorant, poor, yet so ripe with hope and determination and humility” and blinds him to the dangerous similarity between his plan for prisoner rehabilitation and this country’s agricultural, slave-holding past. This same lack of self-awareness crescendos in the harvest of wild rice, when Horan goes so far as to tell the tale in a Disneyesque caricature of native storytelling—a confusing choice. Poor narrative strategies undermine Horan’s otherwise excellent observations of the vigor of farm work and the characters he meets as he journeys from farm to farm, learning what is left of America’s small agricultural enterprises and the difficulties they face. The harvest of wheat, green beans, blueberries, tomatoes, red raspberries, wild rice, cranberries, potatoes, and walnuts will carry the reader into daydreams of hearty, satisfying work, even as the guide sometimes proves problematic. Agent: Helen Zimmerman, Helen Zimmerman Agency. (Oct.)
T.A. Barron
“Get ready to feel black earth on your fingers, to meet strong and independent people, and to know real gratitude for healthy fruits and vegetables. Richard Horan evocatively describes the peril and promise of family farms in America. I loved joining him on this journey, and so will you.”
Hannah Nordhaus
“A lively visit with the dauntless men and women who operate America’s family farms and help provide our miraculous annual bounty. Richard Horan writes with energy and passion.”
Thomas Powers
“Horan loves a road trip, he loves talk with strangers, he loves people who take their work seriously, he loves working with his hands, he loves rural landscape, and he loves food…[I]t’s all there in Harvest, reported with high spirits by a writer of uncommmon vigor.”
Ted Morgan
“By joining agricultural workers to bring in the crops in half a dozen states, Richard Horan has brought us a welcome view of America to defy the prevailing political and financial nastiness. This is a timely and important book.”
Kirkus Reviews
From July to October 2011, Horan (Seeds, 2011, etc.) traveled to 10 owner-operated farms to take part in the harvesting of their crops; this is his flawed but enthusiastic and highly detailed report of that experience. Though he began his travels around the United States expecting the worst, the author found reason for optimism about the future in the farmers he met. In his view, they are a source of pride and democracy, and he genuinely admires their strength of character and work ethic. During his trip, Horan helped harvest wheat in Kansas, cranberries and vegetables in Massachusetts, potatoes in Maine, raspberries and Brussels sprouts in Ohio, blueberries in New York and walnuts and grapes in California. The author provides in-depth descriptions of each farm's layout and furnishings, the meals he was served, the bed he was given, the hired help and all the family members. Best of all, he describes each crop's harvesting process. Readers interested in knowing how cranberries are pulled from bogs or what it takes to turn wild rice into an edible grain will find the answers here. Horan's love for imparting information leads him to include a host of footnotes, only some of which are relevant. By the end, readers, whom he addresses directly from time to time, may know as much about Horan as about harvesting. He reveals himself as a man of firm opinions, and he leaves the readers in no doubt about where he stands on various environmental, economic, social and political issues. Unfortunately, he also has a solid command of clichés. This could have been a fine book if the author's writing matched his energy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062090317
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/25/2012
Series:
P.S. Series
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
300
Sales rank:
494,089
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Horan is a novelist, English teacher, and book reviewer for several national publications. His novel Goose Music was a finalist for the Great Lakes Fiction Award and won the ForeWord Book of the Year Bronze Medal. He is also the author of Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers from Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton. He lives in Oswego, New York.

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