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In Gaining Ground, author Forrest Pritchard recounts his ambitious and often hilarious endeavors to save his family's seventh-generation Virginia farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Through much trial and error, he not only saves Smith Meadows from insolvency but turns it into a leading light in the sustainable, grass-fed, organic farm-to-market community.
There is nothing young Farmer Pritchard won't try. Whether he's selling firewood and straw, raising free-range chickens and hogs, or acquiring a flock of Barbados Blackbelly sheep, his learning curve is steep and always entertaining. Pritchard's world crackles with colorful local characters-farmhands, butchers, market managers, customers, fellow vendors, pet goats, policemen-bringing the story to warm, communal life. His most important ally, however, is his renegade father, who initially questions his son's career choice and eschews organic foods for the generic kinds that wreak havoc on his health. Soon after his father's death, the farm becomes a recognized success and Pritchard must make a vital decision: to continue serving the local community or answer the exploding demand for his wares with lucrative Internet sales and shipping deals.
More than a charming story of honest food cultivation and farmers markets, Gaining Ground tugs on the heartstrings. Written with humor and pathos, Pritchard's story reconnects us to the land and the many lives that feed us.