Available Now! $15.95
6 x 9, paper - 244 pp.
ISBN 978-935254-32-4

FARMING AROUND THE COUNTRY
An Organic Odyssey 


A Year of Adventure with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
 
Farming Around the Country
gives readers an inside look at daily
life on organic farms from Maine to Florida; from California to Oregon.

For twelve consecutive months, author Brian Bender lived a nomadic life on small organic farms across the United States.  Leaving behind a teaching career, he hopped from farm to farm through an organization called WWOOF: World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  Along with his physical journey, Bender embarked upon a spiritual quest in meditation centers around the country.

Farming Around the Country reveals the humor and hardship of life dominated by a revolving door of farm animals, injuries, eccentric farmers, and unexpected wisdom.  The heart of this story lies with the unusual people and tasks on each farm.  Bender entered his year of transformation as a high school science teacher and came out educated in the ways of sustainable living and human happiness.

WWOOF organizations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or small holdings with people looking for volunteer help.  In exchange for farm labor, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.  Over the past three decades WWOOF'ing has become the agrarian offshoot of eco-tourism, with nearly 400,000 volunteers helping on farms in over 90 countries.


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For a year, leaving a high school science teaching job behind, author Brian Bender worked as a volunteer on 12 small-scale organic farms across the United States, from Vermont to California and from Florida to Oregon, from livestock to produce, from the subtropics to glaciers, with a bit of couch-surfing in between. Through a factual as well as engaging first-person narrative, the reader is immersed in the life of an educated and sensitive Woofer, witnessing the natural beauty and daily chore of organic farm life, off-grid and communal living with opinionated, gracious and difficult hosts and fellow volunteers from all walks of life, the good times and the hard times.

This is not one more dry how-to guide for volunteers: there are no guidelines and know-it-all instructions, no diagrams, no pictures even: no need - the author's descriptions are as sharp as any photo. Neither is it a glowing or indirect advertising account for specific farms and accommodation providers, as so much of travel writing these days. It could have been a documentary and it might well become the scenario for an alternative off-road movie trip across the United States, showing the rest of the world its other, beautiful, small-size, peaceful side, and that through organic farming and living, many people are applying Gandhi’s famous dictum, quoted in the book, “Be the change you would like to see in the world”.

The only character, among people and animals, that is not described in detail until the final chapters of the book is the author himself. By the end of the book we can deduce with confidence that this has indeed been a real, eye-opening journey, that he is indeed “happy”, “always learning” and “forever changing.” Hopefully, his happiness will not stand in the way of more travel and writing. 

     
Antonis Petropoulos Editor,
      ECOCLUB.com
 


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