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Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own, a Memoir

Jenna Woginrich
Publication Date: 

paper, 184 pp., $14.95

Backwards, hoe! Stricken by an overwhelming urge to settle on the land, the highly motivated author relates her latest venture in this chronicle of a young woman, determined to return to farm life of an earlier period. Moving to New England to start a new office job, she rents a small cabin, set on six acres of land, and proceeds to develop it into a small sustainable farm. One can’t help but appreciate the determination of youth, but clearly the author was not sensitive to both her neighbors' attitudes and to those of others in the community; her ramshackle farm reflected on their property values. Forced to move, she faced a notable crisis: Where could she find another rental place that would suit her wants and purse strings, as well as fill the needs of the farm stock she had acquired? She had not considered the responsibilities that came with farming. Her story is reminiscent of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. She was unprepared financially to face the consequences of her endeavors. While some readers will cheer her efforts, others may view this work as a reflection of a segment of self-centered contemporary society.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden