Many Hands Make a Farm: 47 Years of Questioning Authority, Feeding a Community, and Building an Organic Movement


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Many Hands Make a Farm: 47 Years of Questioning Authority, Feeding a Community, and Building an Organic Movement Authors: , Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Chelsea Green Publishing Co
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Pages: 208 Illustrations and other contents: 8-page color insert Language: English ISBN: 9781645021971 Categories: ,

In this heartfelt and unflinching memoir, two activists recount the nearly half century they’ve spent questioning authority while raising a family, building a self-reliant community, starting an organic farm, leading a farming organisation and experiencing the struggles and joys of living a purposeful life. Many Hands Make a Farm traces the journey of organic farming pioneers Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge from their early years of bright-eyed excitement, through the long slog for economic stability, to the formation of a thriving community and a growing natural farming movement. Along the way, they established relationships with farming leaders across the country during the creation of the National Organic Program. Julie and Jack met while working as community organisers in Boston. After falling in love and starting a family, they decided to use Jack’s irregular earnings as a board game designer to support a move to a rural area where they could grow healthy food and earn their living at home, so they could be present for their four children. What began as a family homestead soon grew into the small, diversified Many Hands Organic Farm. Julie and Jack have intentionally chosen to live their lives differently than the mainstream, prioritising minimising energy use, raising food organically, not relying on credit, favouring natural health care, participating in the arts, working creatively and instilling the values of hard work and responsibility in their children. In a time when society at large was ‘going along to get along,’ Julie and Jack stood out as leaders and iconoclasts. They believe that taking risks and making bold decisions can unlock one’s potential and lead to actions that enrich the spirit, the family, and the community. Many Hands Make a Farm will resonate with fans of original thinkers from Henry David Thoreau and Wendell Berry to Lynn Margulis and Adelle Davis. The book strongly conveys the message of finding roots in a community, respecting the Earth, and combining social justice work with the joys and challenges of raising a family. These themes shine through on every page, making this memoir a must-read for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance on finding meaning in their life.

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“Many Hands Make a Farm might be the most delightful book I’ve read in a long time. Rare in its raw, practical, from-the-heart stories, every challenging lesson is cloaked in respect and humor, and every page blossoms with wisdom and can-do spirit. I can’t imagine a better way to present a small-farm life lived exuberantly. Julie and Jack are pioneer icons of the ecological food and farming movement.”—Joel Salatin, cofounder, Polyface Farm; author of Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal “In Many Hands Make a Farm, Jack and Julie masterfully weave together the threads of sustainable agriculture, the trials and triumphs of raising a family, the profound connections we build with loved ones, and the enduring strength of community bonds. Regeneration is fundamentally about regenerating relationships, at all levels. Jack and Julie give us a shining example of how to live regeneration.”—John Kempf, founder, Advancing Eco Agriculture; author of Quality Agriculture “Many Hands Make a Farm is a quintessential American story of pioneering, innovating, and bucking conventional wisdom. It is also a testimony to the simple, good life, with practical tips on everything from how to build a farm to how to raise a family. As a young man, I had the good fortune to get to know Julie and Jack as one of their first apprentices; now this extraordinary couple’s story is accessible to everyone in this heartfelt memoir.”—Lucian Kim, journalist “In this uplifting memoir, Jack Kittredge and Julie Rawson describe how they carved out a life of their dreams solidly based on the clarity of their values. Jack and Julie have touched the lives of thousands of people through their passion for building community and producing local and organic food. Their ability to incorporate new understandings, such as the importance of not tilling their soil, placed them at the cutting edge of innovation. They are visionary early leaders in the movement toward a more regenerative agriculture.”—Tim LaSalle, cofounder, Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems “Filled with practical advice, wise counsel, and entertaining stories, Many Hands Make a Farm is the story of love in action—love for the land, community, family, and each other. Jack and Julie’s latest collaboration chronicles the rewards and challenges of organic farming and living a life true to their convictions. It’s an inspiring story that I enjoyed very much and shows why Many Hands Organic Farm is representative of the best organic farms, anywhere.”—Mark Kastel, executive director, OrganicEye; cofounder, The Cornucopia Institute “Many Hands Make a Farm is an inspirational and engaging read by two of organic agriculture’s most respected leaders. Jack and Julie are steadfast champions of freedom and love. Their open-minded questioning has led them to a life full of nature’s insights, as well as the fortitude to say what needs to be said. Farming, raising children, community organizing, music, and health—they offer their wisdom and pointers on the practical application of ‘the good life.’ And when they say ‘many hands,’ they aren’t kidding. This family gets a whole lot done!”—Bryan O’Hara, author of No-Till Intensive Vegetable Culture “Hey, so you Gen Z folks wanna get back to the land? If you’re ready to work hard, find your own community, dance often, and pull rocks, then this book is for you. Julie and Jack have a remarkable story to tell. Read theirs and then go out and make one of your own!”—Bob Scowcroft, cofounder, Organic Farming Research Foundation; board member, Nell Newman Foundation “To read this book is to be touched by the beauty and wholeness of Many Hands Organic Farm. And so we are grateful to Jack and Julie for the way their lives—grounded in service, resilience, and reciprocity—have exemplified the inseparability of food, land, and community in creating a roadmap for those who have the courage to follow.”—Samuel and Elizabeth Smith, founders, Caretaker Farm “Jack Kittredge and Julie Rawson are builders—they built an organic farm, an influential organization (the Northeast Organic Farming Association, NOFA), sheds and barns, and even their own house—while creating a vibrant community dedicated to nontoxic farming and lasting values. Many Hands Make a Farm tells their story with humor and grace. Read and enjoy!”—Sally Fallon Morell, president, Weston A. Price Foundation “Many Hands Make a Farm is a great read, a page-turner that explores how Jack and Julie came to build their own organic farm and helped build an organic farming movement in the Northeast. It is thrilling to see how their deep love for each other and their children, as well as their love for community organizing and for organic farmers, fueled their passion through the years and resulted in magical happenings. They were committed to listening and to allowing others to speak and work out their truth for themselves, which could be uncomfortable for all concerned, but which bore fruit over time. Julie and Jack have lived what they taught, centered on their love of farming and the people that make it all possible."—Don Elmer, former senior organizer, Center for Community Change “Many Hands Make a Farm is a wonderfully honest and engaging book by two former community organizers who turned themselves into farmers—leaders in the organic farming movement—and also created a musically fulfilling family life.”—Joan Gussow, professor emerita of nutrition and education, Teachers College, Columbia University; author of This Organic Life “Over the decades, Jack and Julie have welcomed many people to the everyday pleasures of homegrown food and farming at Many Hands Organic Farm. In their wide-ranging memoir, they extend that welcome to a larger reading audience with the same mix of strong opinions, humor, and passion that have always infused their farm tours, CSA pickup days, state and federal advocacy for organic farmers, and their community music involvement.”—Margaret Christie, special projects director, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture "Told in complementary, alternating narratives between husband and wife, this informative and heartfelt memoir is uplifting from start to finish."—Booklist