Back on the Farm

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Have you ever wanted to run away from life in the city and find work on a farm? Sunshine on your shoulders? Mud under your feet? A 360-view of nature? Okay, maybe I’m alone on that one. Well, Rochelle Bilow and I. She gave up life in the city, spent a year working on a farm in central New York, and then wrote about her experiences in The Call of the Farm: An Unexpected Year of Getting Dirty, Home Cooking, and Finding Myself. Bilow was a budding food writer looking for her niche. She had been to culinary school and had worked at Aldea, a highly-rated NYC restaurant. And yet something was missing in her life. Something she found while researching an article for Edible Finger Lakes magazine. She spent a day volunteering at Stonehill Farm, hoping to get enough information for her piece and then go home, but she ended up diving into a new way of life. The day of volunteering turned into over a year spent working at the farm: cooking, hauling hay, planting seedlings, feeding animals.

Stonehill, being a “full-diet” farm, produces not only vegetables, but also meat, dairy, and eggs. Bilow is immediately enchanted at the prospect of eating and cooking with milk straight from the cow and vegetables still warm from the field.  She says, “Suddenly given a field’s worth of fresh, quality ingredients and nothing before me but time and hungry farmers, I relished the opportunity to create elaborate meals layered with flavors and seasoned generously with fat.” (My mouth is watering just at the thought!) 

Though Bilow writes about the hard, but rewarding, work that is part of running a farm, hers is an extremely personal story about taking chances and jumping headlong into change, even when you don’t know where it will ultimately lead you. (Romance is also in the cards for Bilow, when she meets Ian, a tall, blonde farmer who works at Stonehill. She writes with deep honesty as she chronicles their relationship, both the good and the bad.) This is a great book for someone on their own personal journey who needs a little motivation to take the next step, but also for the readers of Michael Pollan, Bill Buford, and Michael Ruhlman, who enjoy reading anything and everything about food.

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