Fields of Farmers is Joel Salatin’s latest book and perhaps one of his best. This book is much more than a book about about Polyface Farm’s internship program, though that is a central theme. This book is about a crisis in agriculture. The average American farmer is now 60 years old and in the next several decades 50% of American farmland will change hands. American farmland, some 3.1 million acres in upstate NY alone, is being abandoned and left to revert back to forests. This book is an attempt to show these problems, not as the “end of the world”, but as an opportunity for for “new agriculture” to emerge and take the reins.
I’ve read many of Joel’s books over the years and found them useful as well as witty and fun to read. In this book, Joel opens up more than in any of his previous books, bearing his soul and faults for all to see. Some of things Joel shares are things that would have been much easier and less painful for him just to skip over and keep to himself. He shares the ups and downs of farming in general and the intern program in particular. He shares advice for farmers who are thinking of starting internships, young people who want to be interns and those wanting to get started farming without land or much money. Its the same witty, sharp, liberty loving, Christian eco-farmer that you’ve read before…..only better.
Whether you interested in agricultural internships or just someone concerned about the future of farming, the book is well worth reading. There really is something for anyone, here. I enjoyed every bit of it, from the history and application of intern programs to the anti-gov’t rants and home spun wisdom interspersed throughout. Just the kind of catalyst we need to begin having some broader discussions on these topics, as well as a very practical manual for starting and running farm internships.