Gaining Ground – Saving the Family Farm (Book Review and Giveaway)


The family farm will continue as long as its existence is valued. There is strength in a family, and balance. The earth appears to respond to these things. And who is to say what defines a family? Certainly not I. My best attempt would suggest a congregation of like-minded hearts.

Saving the family farm will forever be a process, not a goal or a destination. Like any necessary chore, the work never ends. It only waits for us the following morning, or the following season. So I wake and enter the day.

Somewhere, another farm awaits its farmer. — Forrest Pritchard

Gaining Ground A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm Forrest Pritchard BookThere’s something to be said about a person, fresh out of college, who can take a struggling business model, endure their critics, and change it into a successful, sustainable business. Forrest Pritchard did that with his family farm in Berryville, VA and writes his narrative in Gaining Ground, set to be released later this month!

Most material I have read in recent years from the local, grass-based farming movement is critical of more-conventional methods of farming embraced by most farmers and ranchers in this country. Pritchard’s words still paint a negative image of modern beef, pork, and poultry farming, but it’s an honest perspective and not what his message relies upon. And I can greatly appreciate that.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the book when Forrest offered me an opportunity to read a copy earlier this year. There’s a foreward written by Joel Salatin – a farmer I respect for taking the road less traveled and opening up the world of food production to urban dwellers, but I’m not always fond of how he describes other farming and ranching methods. I took the challenge and sat down to read the book on Spring Break. In two afternoons on the porch, I had read the entire book.

Forrest Pritchard came home after college to his family farm unsure of what he wanted to do. He was left in shock as his family’s entire corn crop brought home a sum of $18.16 in 1996. He undertook the challenge and shares his narrative in Gaining Ground. Forrest includes the realities of trying build a farming operation on his seventh-generation farm land in the Shenandoah Valley. The stories kept me laughing as I tried to picture Forrest’s encounter with pastured poultry escaping and a flock of Barbados Blackbelly sheep that wouldn’t stay put. My favorite event may have to be when a determined hog outwits Forrest and leaves him treed one morning instead of taking a trip to the slaughterhouse.

Gaining Ground gives a good glimpse of the challenges encountered by a young man making a go in the niche of local food production. Forrest is pretty lucky to have found his place in the Farmers’ Markets and local foods in the larger D.C. area. Instead of broadening sales with the enticement of internet buyers, Forrest encourages others to seek out farmers in their local areas for fresh food.

I hope his story encourages others within reasonable distance of a metro area to seek out opportunities to cater to the urban demand for fresh foods. Be sure to follow Forrest and his farming journey on the Smith Meadows website, Facebook, and Twitter. Don’t forget you can purchase a copy of Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm on Amazon.

Actually, I enjoyed the book so much, I want to give a copy to someone. Yeah, that’s right. Another giveaway for a lucky reader!

Giveaway – Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard

Enter to win your own copy of Gaining Ground by filling out the entry form below. Entries will be placed in a drawing and a winner will be chosen on Thursday, May 23, 2013.

Be sure to ‘Like’ the I am Agriculture Proud Facebook page for more updates.

Follow Forrest Pritchard on Facebook for more of his story.

Giveaway has closed.

Only one entry per person. Immediate family of Ryan Goodman or Smith Meadows Farming Family are not eligible to win. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Winner will be chosen by Random Number and notified via email. Winner has 24 hours to respond or prize will be forfeited.

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6 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, I’ll definitely buy his book. He lives close by! It’s so good to see farming in the Shenandoah Valley, instead of development, which, unfortunately we have a lot of. So many family farms have become the ‘burbs. Thanks for posting this, Ryan. I’m gonna check out Forrest’s book.

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    1. Thanks! That’s great to hear. I hope you enjoy the book!

      It’s definitely hard to see fields turn into subdivisions, so I am glad to see when folks want to give it a go with the farm.

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      1. Thank you and yep, sad about farms. I hope Forrest can start a movement in the area, so I’m looking forward to his book. Thanks :)!

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  2. There is hope for family farms. Our family farms, raising pastured pigs on about 70 acres plus or forest land here in the mountains of Vermont. We don’t buy the commercial hog feed, we’re building our own on-farm meat processing facility, we do things ourselves. This is vertical integration – the way that farms used to be and a viable model for the future. It is rewarding.

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