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A Farm Dies Once a Year
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A Farm Dies Once a Year

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  208 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The summer he was thirty-one, Arlo Crawford returned home for the summer harvest at New Morning Farm--seventy-five acres tucked in a hollow in south-central Pennsylvania where his parents had been growing organic vegetables for almost forty years.

Like many summers before, Arlo returned to the family farm's familiar rhythms--rise, eat, bend, pick, sort, sweat, sleep. But th
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published June 18th 2013)
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May 12, 2014 Sally rated it did not like it
I began this book eager to read of Arlo's experience growing up on New Morning Farm. My college boyfriend looked into working there 24 years ago. New Morning was fully staffed, and we were referred to Blue Moon Farm, where we lived and worked for nine months. We witnessed the murder that figures so prominently in this narrative. The author has attempted to dramatize a scene that he did not witness and played no part in. I remember him visiting the farm as an 11-year-old boy only twice that seaso ...more
Robert Weinswig
May 14, 2014 Robert Weinswig rated it did not like it
I was looking forward to this book coming out, and I really wanted to like it, which is why I didn't put it down with the first few inaccuracies that I came across. Having been to New Morning Farm and having a great appreciation for it's owners, I couldn't wait to learn more about them and revisit that beautiful place through the eyes of their son. Unfortunately this book is only half about the farm and them, and rather vague at best. Curiously the author fills the rest of the book by exploiting ...more
May 07, 2014 Brigid rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, farming, food
An egocentric look at a 30 something person's life and desires, and past growing up on an organic farm. A compelling idea for a story, and yet, very little that held my interest. This felt more like reading the author's rambling journals, and less of the drama that makes a memoir an interesting story.
I would have liked to hear less about the death of the neighbor farmer, and more about the inner workings of the farm that were just hinted at throughout the book.
Feb 10, 2014 Jessica rated it it was ok
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I wanted to like this book, I really did, but overall I was disappointed. I was hoping to read a book about farming- the ups and the downs, the daily tasks, the characteristics of vegetables, etc... and though these things are mentioned in the book, I wouldn't call them the overall theme. Only two entire chapters are dedicated to the physical running of the farm- one to picking/ irrigation, the other to selling at market. (I found myself thinkin
Rebecca Foster
For some reason I misread the title and thought this would be a Wendell Berry-esque book deploring the loss of family farms across America, as in “a farm dies once a day.” Instead, it’s a memoir of a summer Arlo Crawford spent back at his parents’ New Morning Farm in Pennsylvania while he was between careers and trying to figure out what to do with his life. “By the time I was thirty and still didn’t have a savings account, I was also starting to understand the unassailable truth that money was ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Nicholas rated it it was amazing
I particularly liked three things about this memoir of a young-thirties guy who leaves a life in Boston to go back to his parents' organic farm in Pennsylvania for the harvest season:

It's partially about figuring out what to do with your life. The author's parents made one decision -- start an organic farm -- when they were young, and he's trying to come to some sort of conclusion about his own life, to find some direction. The answers aren't easy or necessarily clear-cut, but in contemplating w
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
What a difficult book to describe.

A FARM DIES ONCE A YEAR is about a unique lifestyle. A rural lifestyle centered on the new, smaller organic farms and how they survive and thrive in the modern world. But it's also about the honesty of that heavy, difficult work and how it combines sublime beauty with sweat and dirty hands.

Beyond that, A FARM DIES ONCE A YEAR is also an exploration of self. Arlo Crawford takes a look at his childhood, where he is now, and where he might go in the future. And as
Nov 21, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it
Possibly my favorite thing about "A Farm Dies Once a Year" is that I know the countryside of the farm in the title. The town names are all familiar, and I can picture the shale in the soil, the rippling ridges of the Appalachians, the Mennonites in their yards hanging up the laundry, the flat lands east of the mountains with their lonely farmhouses and vast fields of corn.

And my second favorite thing is that I know all about this "back to the land" big idea. Let's go run a farm, let's get our h
Jun 14, 2014 Jo rated it really liked it
A very special read since I've been shopping at New Morning Farm's market at Sheridan School here in DC for 26 years. Every Saturday morning we (my middle son and I, these days) stop in and gather seasonal, organic produce, taking joy in what's new and beautiful. All week we relish the fresh-picked goodness and return for more radiantly healthy gems the following Saturday--a glorious rhythm, woven by now into the very fiber of our hearts.
Oct 14, 2013 Scott rated it it was amazing
First book this year that made me cry.
Annie Bronchetti
Jul 20, 2014 Annie Bronchetti rated it liked it
I particularly liked the section of the book that described the activities and events involved with selling at the farmers market in the city and the authors fathers relationship with the customers and his love for and excitement about the produce he offered. A ton of hard work but such an enjoyable scene and the essence of Farm to Table. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone had the ability to buy their food from such a farmer?
Aug 18, 2014 Danni rated it really liked it
Very few people have the opportunity to experience the struggles and joys of working on a farm. The author shares the stories and beauty of one growing season on his parents' organic vegetable farm. Each tale is described in simple but flowing prose. There are gorgeous moments that make you feel like you are standing in the fields with the author or hearing his parents over dinner in the kitchen. I loved reading about his father; a man who is dedicated to his life's work to the extreme. The only ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Dina rated it it was ok
Someone really needs to tell 20 somethings and 30 somethings that memoir should be memorable. Very disappointed in this book-I expected to find out a little bit about what the author's actual life was like growing up on his parent's organic produce farm. Instead we get a boring self- centered story of one summer when Crawford returns to the farm with his city loving girl friend ( whose only comment after meeting some local Plain Mennonites is that they are weird)after figuring he has nothing els ...more
Ryan G
May 13, 2014 Ryan G rated it really liked it
Imagine yourself sitting down at a desk, keyboard in front of you, and writing a love letter to your parents. You want to tell them how much you love them, how appreciative you are of the way they raised you, how much you admire their strength, and how you will never truly feel as if you have lived up to their example. You want them to understand how much they mean to you, how truly magnificent they are in your eyes. You want to thank them for allowing you to have your own life, to follow your o ...more
Apr 26, 2014 Alan rated it it was amazing
This book came to me at the right time in my life. It did not take me long to hooked. I felt all those things Arlo describes about his life in Massachusetts (a weird coincidence I also work at an art museum). I really connected with this book, even though I have never lived on a farm and, despite all of his great descriptions, I really do not have any desire to. Even so, reading Arlo's journey that summer he spent on the farm truly engrossed me. People who saw me reading this book always asked m ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Samuel rated it really liked it
Arlo Crawford's book is perhaps the first by the son of a farmer couple who went "back to the land" and built a life. He peels back the layers on this often-times romantic adventure and shows how tough it is to build a farm business in rural America, raise a family and find a place amid the locals.

Although I know the farm and the farmer (and the author), I had no idea of how rural the area actually was in terms of the lack of opportunity and the wide gulf between the Crawfords and their (often
Aug 07, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Continuing the summer of memoirs. This book was much more than I expected. When Arlo returned to his parent's farm, I expected him to "find himself" during the long growing season he spent with his parents and various workers that called New Morning Farm home that year. He was also joined there by his girlfriend Sarah. I didn't think she would last and was pleasantly surprised that they married after. One major truth I learned...farming is hard work and not glamorous! I always thought I would li ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Jess rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 30 somethings, would-be farmers, those interested
Recommended to Jess by: browsing
I liked this one. I happened upon it at the library while browsing the new shelf and I'm pleased I brought it home. While reading, I mentally made a list of people I'll recommend it to or share bits with.

Enjoyable, pleasant, interesting, and something to think on, especially if you ever question your job, town, or path in life. Arlo did a fine job of combining present and past.

I think there could have been a little less on Bert's death, but seeing as it's a memoir and Crawford obviously spend a
Oct 14, 2014 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: farming
This was a disappointing farm read for me. Arlo Crawford's parents were "back-to-the-land" hippies who decided to try to make a living farming vegetables - and they've been successful. Arlo and his sister were raised on the farm, but never wanted to come back and help run it or take it over from their parents. This book is about Arlo coming back when he's in his early 30's and between jobs and isn't sure what he wants to do next. He works the summer on the farm with his girlfriend Sarah. When Ar ...more
Jim Kahn
Nov 29, 2014 Jim Kahn rated it really liked it
This book is so beautifully written as to be baffling. Yet another version of the stale 'leaving city life to move to a farm' genre, this one is set apart by its focus on gorgeous prose, imagery, and a singular lack of focus of being any sort of a 'how to.' There is quite a bit of sordid small town intrigue that is relayed throughout the course of the novel which also keeps the pages turning. From a personal standpoint, the author also has strong connections to two places near and dear to my hea ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Chris rated it liked it
This book races off in a bunch of different directions. It's mostly about a man returning to his family's farm for a summer and how a small farm operates. But a lot of ink is dedicated to a 1990 murder of a family friend, the author's relationship with his father, his relationship with his girlfriend who comes to stay, and his quest to carve out a place of his own on the property. A few of the themes weren't adequately addressed by the end.

But, despite its structural faults, the book was easy t
Mary Rank
Jul 07, 2014 Mary Rank rated it it was ok
Shelves: down-on-the-farm
Wow this book was disappointing. The author seemed to be more of a casual observer than a real participant on the farm. Arlo started boarding school during his sophomore year in high school. This was right at the time he would have been most useful on the farm. Then he returns in his 30's to spend a year helping out. He seemed so out of place and uncomfortable so he pulled in a few stories from the farm communities past, namely an account of a murder which, according to other reviewers, was
Nov 25, 2015 Tor rated it it was amazing
... and it teaches you how to build a cabin (sort of).
Nov 21, 2014 Lauren rated it did not like it
Gah, but this did not help with my reading slump.

I went into this book expecting to learn about the daily life of a farm. Instead, I learned that the author is incredibly self-important. For reasons unknown, he devoted half his memoir to details of a murder that happened 20 years previous, which he had no connection to whatsoever. As you might imagine, stories of growing vegetables and violent death do not mesh. The details of the farm that he did include were interesting, but far too few.
Dec 29, 2014 Joy rated it really liked it
The author reflects on a growing season he spent on his parents 40-year-old organic farm in Pennsylvania. There are reflections on his years growing up there, his parents, but mainly the work that is done on the farm, including the planning for crops and selling produce. During the months Crawford is on the farm, he builds a shelter where he can live. Interesting details of the planning and actual construction. Good writing. Interesting subject to me.
Lauren Fulner
Jun 26, 2014 Lauren Fulner rated it really liked it
I adored all the parts of this book that were about the farm, the market, the season, the plants, the seasons, and I wanted to give it five stars, but the references to the author's ennui while living in Boston and the sometimes disjointed circling back to the murder of the neighbor brought it down to four stars for me. Still worth a read though, for the lovely attention to the relationship with the land that one creates through a life of farming.
Aug 31, 2015 Jo rated it it was amazing
My thanks to to Arlo Crawford, the author of A Farm Dies Once a Year and Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program for my copy of this book.

As I was born on a farm that my father gave up when I was too young to remember leaving it, and he became a landscape gardener with a big green house next to our house, this book brought back memories from my childhood of growing our food and helping pick what we ate. Not the same thing as being on a farm, like my grandparents had but still pleasant memories fr
Sep 15, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
The thing I love about books is that reading about a topic can save you the trouble of trying it yourself. I enjoyed this memoir about going back to stay for a summer at the organic farm of Arlo's parents. It was a pleasure to read. Now I can leave organic farming to people who are strong enough to tote those flats and know how to fix an irrigation line.
Rich Wagner
Jul 06, 2014 Rich Wagner rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book that illustrates the joys and hardships involved with farming.Though the work is hard and the days are long the rewards are immeasurable.The only part that I didnt enjoy or really understand how it fit into the story was the parts about the murder of a neighbor farmer,but that was a small part of the overall story
May 28, 2014 Andrea rated it really liked it
I picked this book because Arlo shares my last name, lived in MA and ultimately moved to SF. But I loved A Farm Dies Once a Year on its own merit. It's a lovely snapshot of a man living in one place, for a time.

Arlo's not trying to do anything spectacular, he just wants what we all wish for sometimes-- a chance to re-live part of his childhood as an adult. Most of his goals are modest and he handily accomplishes them but writes about them thoughtfully: his pride in building a shelter, feeling s
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Arlo Crawford grew up on New Morning Farm, his family's farm in rural Pennsylvania. He has written for the New York Time Magazine and Gastronomica and has worked in book publishing, at art museums, and as a vegetable seller. His lives with his wife in San Francisco.
More about Arlo Crawford...

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“When I was still working at the museum, every project had a checklist, a clear set of milestones. I worked until I satisfied these requirements, and then I put the project away. On the farm, though, we were immersed in the summer, a wide, warm ocean with no shore in sight and no landmarks to swim toward. Now we rested in that same ocean, floating as it moved around us.” 0 likes
“Even so, the land felt like it still does today—it filled the hollow in a satisfying way.” 0 likes
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