In this love story of land and family, Kayann Short explores her farm roots from her grandparents’ North Dakota homesteads to her own Stonebridge Farm, an organic, community-supported farm on the Colorado Front Range where small-scale, local agriculture borrows lessons of the past to cultivate sustainable communities for the future.
"Scattered in among musings of local food systems, community action, family history, and current farm realities are clear moments of reflection that demonstrate Short’s acumen as a writer."
Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments
"Short's focus on a CSA makes this memoir distinctive from other recent farmrelated nonfiction."
Western American Literature Journal
" A Bushel’s Worth is my favorite kind of nonfiction. Not only is it about many topics close to my heartgardening, food, familyit is a beautifully told story, and a love story at that, centered around the love of a couple, their love for the land, and a community’s love for a way of life. This book forever changed my perspective and awareness as I 'walk out' in my own garden."
Katrina Kittle , author, The Blessings of the Animals
"A heartfelt meditation on farm, food, and family. A Bushel’s Worth tells a love story of the land and a life spent caring for it.”
Hannah Nordhaus , author, The Beekeeper’s Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honeybees Help Feed America
“Kayann Short shares a passionate and often lyrical account of how she and her husband John took their first brave steps toward revitalizing a small Colorado farm and with it their lives and the community they drew around them. It is an inspiring story, a gift for all of us, both on and off the farm, who are trying to learn how to slow down our frenzied lives so that we may give ourselves to what really matters.”
Gregory Spaid , author, Grace: Photographs of Rural America
"With a companionable mix of literary and earthy sensibilities, Kayann Short writes with graceful, ferocious attentiveness [and] finds reassurance for herself and her modern family in “the old wisdom of the fields.”
John Calderazzo , author, Rising Fire: Volcanoes & Our Inner Lives
“[A] beautifully written and sensually rich ‘ecobiography’ of farm life... A Bushel’s Worth is a loving natural history of a farm, a marriage, and a way of life that has changed interestingly and dramatically over just a few generations.”
Jane Shellenberger , author, Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West
“The book is a substantial meal...as much about growing community as it is about growing food, and it leaves the reader with a generous bushel of instruction and inspiration on both counts.”
Susan Becker , Director, Boulder Public Library Oral History Program
“ A Bushel’s Worth: An Ecobiography eloquently depicts humans and nature coexisting and mutually benefiting not only in theory, but in actuality...where people treat each other respectfully as they gently work on and with the land.”
Shelly Eberly , National Outings Leader, Sierra Club
|Publisher:||Torrey House Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Kayann Short, Ph.D., is a writer, farmer, teacher, and activist at Stonebridge Farm, an organic community-supported farm in the Rocky Mountain foothills. She has directed memoir and digital storytelling projects with community elders, adult literacy students, and non-profit organizations. Her writing has appeared in Women’s Review of Books, The Bloomsbury Review, Edible Front Range , and Colorado Gardener . More on her ecology-based memoir work is available at www.ecobiography.com. Besides growing delicious food at Stonebridge, Short teaches the important place of organic food production and agricultural preservation in a healthy, environmentally sustainable community.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Personal, political, social, artistic, practical – it’s all in farming. And since farming is at the center of A Bushel’s Worth (2013), those adjectives also describe the book. But it’s also the love story of its author, Kayann Short, with the land of her grandparents’ farms and with her own farm – Stonebridge Farm – and the man with whom she works it. By turns poetic and discursive, the book is one part family history, one part land use policy discussion, two parts community supported farm operating manual, and three parts history of Stonebridge farm. To call it memoir seems shallow and unworthy of what Short has created. But then, I don’t generally enjoy memoirs. To put all my cards on the table, I probably would not have read the book except that I have known Short for 25 years. And I love Stonebridge Farm as much as much or more than I love any other place. So, for me, A Bushel’s Worth is familiar and friendly, evoking days of working together; of getting up at six to weed and water for a couple hours before breakfast; of heading back out to stake tomato plants or harvest garlic till lunch; of tackling a project – mending a roof or digging a water tank into the ground or building a new goat pen – in the afternoon; of smack-talking card games after dinner. The writing captures Stonebridge life so powerfully that it brought tears to my eyes for the first 20 or 30 pages, till I was able to manage the emotional impact. Statements like, “Now John and I are the ones who watch the sunsets and seasons pass so that those we love have a farm to come home to” speak directly to me. I count myself lucky to love and be loved by the people at Stonebridge. And when Short writes, “I’ll walk out with you” to gather spinach for dinner or flowers for the table, I see Kayann and John walking side by side as the light gets lower and the heat of the day eases off. Other passages are less emotionally loaded, but still beautiful: “In winter, we think in black and white, shadows and light, the contrasts stark against a graying sky as fresh snow hoods the upper sides of the tree limbs, white flocking on dark branches.” And the sections on Short’s connections to her family history – though less compelling for me – provide, like all historical context, deeper understanding and bigger significance for our present understanding. One of the important and persistent themes of A Bushel’s Worth is that when one works in community with people and the earth, the earth gives back aplenty. Similarly, this book has given me a new appreciation of history and biography as a gift to those who have contributed to a community – thanks, Kayann.
Kayann Short tells the volunteers picking (and eating) radishes on her ten-acre CSA farm, "Fresh is a flavor. This is what fresh tastes like." "A Bushel's Worth," her ecobiography of life at Stonebridge Farm, seems particularly poignant now, as floods and mud have destroyed the town of Lyons just a few miles east. But a 1,000-year Colorado flood can't erase community. And Stonebridge is all about community—community seeding, weeding, harvesting and celebrating. I have no doubt the author's CSA members will pull together to survive this flood. To quote Short, farming is "the work that generates life." Short reminds us that "desecration leads to resurrection. All matter is reshaped into another form." And, also of comfort to the flood-drenched people of Colorado, "the earth has its own sense of time, one measured by rotations rather than devices." Turn off your devices. Forget about speed. Relax, settle in, and pick up A Bushel's Worth. The sanity of the earth turns the pages. You'll meet time-honored farming techniques, learn the lay of the land, recall the logic of the seasons, and even peruse a few family recipes. Tradition fuels the book. "More than a decade after my grandparents' deaths, the porch still smelled like milk." Striking. Touching. The mud porch where her grandfather had separated the cream from his milking, all those years. The work that generates life, is that the work you choose to do? Short shows many challenging, beautiful instances of just that. Her book is a call to remember and revere the earth that sustains and creates us.