When the hail starts to fall, Atina Diffley doesn’t compare it to golf balls. She’s a farmer. It’s “as big as a B-size potato.” As her bombarded land turns white, she and her husband Martin huddle under a blanket and reminisce: the one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds; the eleven-inch rainfall (“that broccoli turned out gorgeous”); the hail disaster of 1977. The romance of farming washed away a long time ago, but the love? Never. In telling her story of working the land, coaxing good food from the fertile soil, Atina Diffley reminds us of an ultimate truth: we live in relationshipswith the earth, plants and animals, families and communities.
A memoir of making these essential relationships work in the face of challenges as natural as weather and as unnatural as corporate politics, her book is a firsthand history of getting in at the “ground level” of organic farming. One of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest, the Diffleys’ Gardens of Eagan helped to usher in a new kind of green revolution in the heart of America’s farmland, supplying their roadside stand and a growing number of local food co-ops. This is a story of a world transformedand reclaimedone square acre at a time.
And yet, after surviving punishing storms and the devastating loss of fifth-generation Diffley family land to suburban development, the Diffleys faced the ultimate challenge: the threat of eminent domain for a crude oil pipeline proposed by one of the largest privately owned companies in the world, notorious polluters Koch Industries. As Atina Diffley tells her David-versus-Goliath tale, she gives readers everything from expert instruction in organic farming to an entrepreneur’s manual on how to grow a business to a legal thriller about battling corporate arrogance to a love story about a single mother falling for a good, big-hearted man.
About the Author
Atina Diffley is an organic vegetable farmer who now educates consumers, farmers, and policymakers about organic farming through the consulting business Organic Farming Works LLC, owned by her and her husband, Martin. From 1973 through 2007, the Diffleys owned and operated Gardens of Eagan, one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest.
Table of Contents
Cold, Hard WaterMy Name Is TinaIt’s Not HereThe Other Has My HeartForward through FirePast in the PresentSpring’s Fault, 1985Songbirds NestingAncient NeedRock and BirdHealth Is True WealthDrought of ’88Endangered SpeciesNomadsAs-If-It-Never-ExistedWhat to Hold on ToSubsoil Is the Mineral BaseEurekaIf Soil Is VirginMaison DiffleySpring Covenant, 1994Fertile GroundThe DifferenceThe Real World of Fresh ProduceLiving in the Relative PresentLooking to the FutureKale versus KochDefinitely Not FungibleSoil versus OilOrganic IntegrityHail Thaws into LifeNormal Process