From midwifing new lambs to harvesting basil, Jessica Gigot invites the reader into her life on a small farm and the uncommon road that led her there. Fascinated by farming and the burgeoning local food movement, she spent her twenties wandering the Pacific Northwest, interning at small farms and doing graduate work in horticulture, always with an eye towards learning as much as she could about how and why people farm. Despite numerous setbacks and the many challenges of farming, she created a family and farm life defined by resilience and a genuine love of the land.
In A Little Bit of Land, Gigot explores the intricacies of small-scale agriculture in the Pacific Northwest and the changing role of women in this male-dominated industry. Gigot alternates between chapters describing joys, routines, and challenges of farm life and chapters reflecting on her formative experiences in agriculture, on farms and in classrooms from Ashland to the Skagit Valley. Throughout, she explores questions of sustainability, economics, health, and food systems.
Planted by the Signs brings us the contemporary Appalachian poetry—cultivated in the dirt of Elliott County, Kentucky—of Misty Skaggs. With an eye for details that exquisitely balance personal and social observation to communicate volumes, she tells the stories of generations of women who have learned to navigate a harsh world with a little help from the Farmers’ Almanac and the stars. The collection is separated into three sections that reference the best times to grow and harvest. Knowing and following these guidelines—planting by the signs—could mean the difference between prosperity and tragedy in the lives of Appalachian families.
Personal, political, and passionate, Planted by the Signs also explores what it means for Skaggs to care for her great-grandmother at the end of her life. Color photos by the poet further showcase her sidelong and fierce outlook. The images and poems together deliver an intimate look into the day-to-day reality of a backwoods woman embracing barefooted radicalism in the only place she could call home.
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