Michael Ableman - sustainable agriculture, organic farming

Michael Ableman's Writing & Photography

Fields of Plenty, by Michael Ableman

Fields of Plenty
A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It
by Michael Ableman

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"A lyrical account of the journey he and his son Anthony took across America in search of small, self-sustaining farms. Mr. Ableman, the founder of the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens in Goleta, Calif., now farms on Salt Spring Island, in British Columbia. He and Anthony set out one summer to learn the secrets of other farmers who were growing their crops, whether wheat, corn or blackberries, without pesticides. Their spirit, their love of the soil and healthy, locally produced food, is palpable on every page. Mr. Ableman's eloquent photographs, as well as the recipes he picks up along the way, express a powerful alternative to the industrial farm."
- Carol Haddix, Chicago Tribune

"Published just in time for what we predict to be one of the big food trends of 2006-saluting farmers- Ableman's book certainly will help the celebration. The profiles of the farmers reflect their passion and hard work. Ableman tackles important questions about food production. At the end, you'll have a wider awareness of the food on the dinner table and how it gets there."
- Ann Raver, New York Times

"Writer and photographer Michael Ableman knows a thing or two about farmers. He's been one for some 25 years. In his latest book, Fields of Plenty , he took a summer off from farm chores and circled the U.S. in a beat up VW with his son, Aaron. The two of them visited dozens of farms-and discovered an abundance of local farmers growing sustainable crops with an astounding variety of methods. If American agriculture is sick-from poisonous inputs, monoculture methods, and overproduction-these folks have the remedy: local production by men and women who know and love the land. You can meet some of them on the following pages, and more of them in Ableman's book."
- The Editors, Utne Reader

"Few of us have the opportunity to see the transformation of real food where it is grown: at small farms, by people in pursuit of a vision, across the country. Michael Ableman, an organic farmer and educator based in British Columbia, left his own farm behind for the growing season, traveling from California and New Mexico to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, Virginia, and back. With a notebook, a camera, and son Aaron in tow, he recorded an endless summer of small farms."
- Susan Chang, The Boston Globe

"America has undeniably become a fast-food nation, with the bulk of our meals coming from cans, freezers or drive-thru windows. In the newest offering from Ableman, he promises that it doesn't have to be this way, delightfully chronicling his quest to experience productive, imaginative, organic American farms. an engaging hybrid of travelogue, cookbook and discourse on the new American agrarian movement. Ableman's findings are far more diverse than the bucolic cornfields that might come to mind when thinking about American agriculture. From the poblano chilies that rise out of the New Mexican desert to an urban oasis of tomato plants bordering on Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project to greenhouses brimming with lettuces along the rocky coastlines of Maine, the farms that he visits paint a vibrant portrait of the American landscape. His prose is as ripe as the summer tomatoes he describes, and the recipes that accompany each chapter are a tempting combination of regional favorites and new flavors."
- Kirkus Reviews

"Fields of Plenty weaves a well-told narrative around a lovely set of photos, also by Ableman, documenting a determined and growing movement designed to reframe the food problem in the U.S. Ableman, a working farmer himself, focuses his pen and camera on small-scale organic growers who hail from a variety of ethnic and economic backgrounds. All seem intent on reclaiming the sensual pleasure of cultivating, cooking, and eating. In Fields of Plenty, Ableman points to a way forward. He wants to retrieve food from the margin of human life, where it makes plenty of trouble, and plunk it right down at the center. But he doesn't paint a sentimental picture of what such a world would be like."
- Tom Philpott, Grist Magazine

"Fields Of Plenty is part travel diary, part cookbook, part expose. Packaged together with first-person narratives, color photographs and wonderful recipes, Fields Of Plenty will fill readers' souls as well as their stomachs. Fans of Fast Food Nation as well as critics of big-business agriculture will appreciate the stories. Foodies will love the taste of how real food is grown, and cooks will love the many and varied recipes. There is plenty for everyone."
- Lauren Chapin, The Kansas City Star

"Mr. Ableman writes very well, He maintains a solid and personable style that's intimate but not indulged. And he stays out of the way and offers a vivid sense of the farmers and their different settings. The fusion of his writing and the pictures and recipes offered along the way will delight and energize you. Ableman has written an excellent book that brings home the pleasures and importance of bringing the growing of our food back to a sustainable and human scale for the health of the earth and our bodies. You are on good terms with your doctor and maybe your mechanic, but if we are what we eat, doesn't it seem like a good idea to know who your farmer is?"
- Lin Rolens, Santa Barbara News Press

"The chronicle of a farmer's journey to the frontiers of American agriculture today, Fields of Plenty is a book of rare beauty and hope. American agriculture is in the process of being reinvented by the farmers Michael Ableman introduces us to here, and to overhear these pioneers in conversation with one of their own is exhilarating."
- Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

"This is a timely and powerful portrait of the new agrarian movement that is sweeping this country. Michael Ableman's compelling stories and exquisite photographs tell a story that we too often forget; that the richness and beauty of our food is inextricably connected to a community of innovative and passionate farmers and to the land that they nurture."
- Alice Waters, Chez Panisse restaurant

"For "Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It," his third book, Ableman, nearly 50, leaves the farm midsummer for the first time in 20 years, striking out in a 1989 VW van ("essentials" packed include a wooden fife and two blues harmonicas) with his grown son Aaron, leaving his wife and 2-year-old son behind to tend to his own fields of plenty.who've stood against the monoculture of corporate agriculture, people who drive their own produce to market or to local kitchens, in the inner city and out the rural routes, who grow 22 kinds of eggplant or 56 cereals, from the Northwest through California, to New Mexico, Wisconsin, Maine, Delaware and back across, 25 farms in all.The array of people and produce, the recipes and almost-lurid photographs that illustrate the fields Ableman visits and the meals he's fed, are almost enough to convert some of us pencil pushers out of the cubicles and back to the soil."
- Oregonian

"When this book landed on my desk before the holidays, two thoughts came to me: First, what a lovely idea for a book and, second, I wish I had written it. "Fields of Plenty" celebrates the spirit of working the land and it provides a necessary perspective about the current state of small-scale farming. The timing of "Fields of Plenty" is fortuitous: At this time of year, everyone is making predictions. Mine is that 2006 will belong to the artisan farmer/food producer."
- Hsiao-Ching Chou, Seattle Post Intelligencer


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