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This Common Ground


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About the Author

Scott Chaskey earned an M.A. in creative writing from Antioch College. For the last fourteen years, he has worked as a land steward and farmer for the Peconic Land Trust at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, New York. A pioneer of the community farming movement, he is the president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association and on the board for the Center for Whole Communities in Vermont.

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Chaskey is not a typical farmer-he helps tend a community-supported agriculture farm in Long Island, NY, that is owned by a nonprofit land trust. Food is grown for members who share maintenance costs and harvest their own produce. Unlike the organic farming couple in Nicola Smith's Harvest, who struggle daily with too many chores, too little time, and too little money, Chaskey seems to have none of these problems. Instead, he has time to observe wildlife and weeds and to become rhapsodic about the delights of planting garlic and making compost. Snippets of quoted verse and prose abound, e.g., watching crows in the field elicits "melodic lines" from Shakespeare's King Lear. Those looking for a practical guide to organic farming will fail to find it in this hodgepodge of thoughts. An optional purchase.-Ilse Heidmann, Washington State Lib., Olympia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Poet Chaskey, former head of the organic Quail Hill Farm on Long Island's South Fork, gives a sprightly account of "the education of a gardener become farmer, representing a committed community" as well as "the challenges faced by all small farms, enlivened by a wind from the sea." As this chronicle of a year at Quail Hill shows, Chaskey loves the way of life at the farm-a cousin to the more than 1,500 CSA (community supported agriculture) farms now in the U.S., dedicated to community and providing locally grown produce. The delight of his writing is his balancing of the poetry of farm life-as when he looks up "to catch the liquid flight of swallows" and "the music of wind as it weaves a thread through the brambles"-with touches of humor, such as his amazement that "our cabbages continue to grow to epic proportions." He also effectively summarizes the "critical juncture" at which the organic farming movement finds itself as a result of recent federal legislation governing organic foods. His book will be a joy to read for lovers of organic farming, and it also offers a strong argument to the general public that, with careful management of the soil, "everyone, the haves and the have-nots, [can] gain access to land and good food." B&w illus. Agent, Paul Bresnick. (Apr. 25) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

An elegy to the land and to the creatures who inhabit it... the book is also a gardener's bible. (Anne Raver, "The New York Times")

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