When I heard of Kayann Short's A Bushel's Worth: An Ecobiography, I was excited. It seemed like it would combine many of my passions in one book: memoir, writing, nature, sustainable agriculture, family, and speaking for change. I was not disappointed. Short came through on all counts, weaving past and present together with evocative language and a passion for family and land that shone throughout the entire book. I had never heard the word "ecobiography" before, so I looked it up and found: nothing. The word captured my imagination, though, and I thought of other writers whose books would seem to fall under this heading. Susan Wittig Albert's Together Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place and An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days, and Susan J. Tweit's Walking Nature Home immediately came to mind.
In A Bushel's Worth, Short takes us on a tour of her past and present as she tells about childhood summers on her grandparents' farms as well as her life now at Stonebridge Farm, an organic, community-supported farm in the Rocky Mountain foothills. She doesn't go into any great detail; this is not an "I did this, and then I did that" sort of story. Instead, she blends her own experiences with those of her grandmothers, and with the land itself, in a series of snapshots that take us through the seasons and demonstrate clearly how truly wound up together all life is, in one beautiful, colorful ball of yarn in which the end has not, yet, been found.
Short's prose is lovely, flowing, and full of details about the world around her and the workings of Stonebridge's Community Supported Agriculture program. From barn paintings to pancake dinners to harvests that bring people together in work and companionship, it is a story not of one place, or one time, but of the idea of community and continuity that seems to be lacking for most people in modern life.
Kayann Short, Ph.D., is a writer, farmer, teacher, and activist at Stonebridge Farm, an organic community-supported farm in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Visit her website.
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Check out our interview with the author of A Bushel's Worth.
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