A FARM DIES ONCE A YEAR by Arlo Crawford


A Memoir
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A down-to-earth account of life on New Morning Farm, to which Crawford, the rather aimless son of the owners, returned for one season, searching for some direction in his own unsatisfactory life.

When he was 31, Crawford, who grew up on the family’s 75-acre organic vegetable farm in Pennsylvania, gave up his administrative job at the Fogg Museum at Harvard, arriving at New Morning in late May. After a shaky beginning, the author joined the other farm workers in their physically demanding daily chores. “The place had always made me a little anxious,” he writes. “It was so isolated and lonely, and the work there was so intense.” Woven into this almost-coming-of-age narrative are Crawford’s memories of growing up on the farm and what he has learned about his parents’ early days there. For part of the season, his amiable girlfriend, who seemed somewhat more challenged by farm life than he, joined him, sharing a rude shelter he single-handedly built for them some distance from the main farmhouse. In his spare time, Crawford looked into the murder of a neighboring farmer that occurred nearly 20 years before. Crawford’s account of the work on the farm is matter-of-fact and clear, and his portraits of his hardworking, middle-aged parents are sharp. When he looks inward, however, the picture is more opaque. In the fall, his girlfriend left the farm for San Francisco, and shortly after Christmas, he joined her there, working in a natural foods store, still not sure where his life was going or even where he wanted it to go. “I still hadn’t solved the problem of what I wanted to do with my life,” writes the author. “I was coming to the realization that it would probably be with me forever, and that it was a problem that I likely shared with every other person on earth.”

Most interesting to aspiring organic farmers.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9816-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2014


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