Turn Here Sweet Corn
Turn Here Sweet Corn
Organic Farming Works
University of Minnesota Press, Hardcover, 9780816677719, 344pp.
Publication Date: April 4, 2012
When the hail starts to fall, Atina Diffley doesn t compare it to golf balls. She's a farmer. It's as big as a B-size potato. As her bombarded land turns white, she and her husband Martin huddle under a blanket and reminisce: the one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds; the eleven-inch rainfall ( that broccoli turned out gorgeous ); the hail disaster of 1977. The romance of farming washed away a long time ago, but the love? Never. In telling her story of working the land, coaxing good food from the fertile soil, Atina Diffley reminds us of an ultimate truth: we live in relationships with the earth, plants and animals, families and communities.
A memoir of making these essential relationships work in the face of challenges as natural as weather and as unnatural as corporate politics, her book is a firsthand history of getting in at the ground level of organic farming. One of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest, the Diffleys Gardens of Eagan helped to usher in a new kind of green revolution in the heart of America's farmland, supplying their roadside stand and a growing number of local food co-ops. This is a story of a world transformed and reclaimed one square acre at a time.
And yet, after surviving punishing storms and the devastating loss of fifth-generation Diffley family land to suburban development, the Diffleys faced the ultimate challenge: the threat of eminent domain for a crude oil pipeline proposed by one of the largest privately owned companies in the world, notorious polluters Koch Industries. As Atina Diffley tells her David-versus-Goliath tale, she gives readers everything from expert instruction in organic farming to an entrepreneur's manual on how to grow a business to a legal thriller about battling corporate arrogance to a love story about a single mother falling for a good, big-hearted man.
"Turn Here Sweet Corn is an unexpected page-turner. Atina Diffley’s compelling account of her life as a Minnesota organic farmer is deeply moving not only from a personal standpoint but also from the political. Diffley reveals the evident difficulties of small-scale organic farming but is inspirational about its value to people and the planet." —Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat
"This book is wonderful on so many levels: the swift moving and dramatic story of Atina and Martin Diffley, the farmers of Gardens of Eagan, as they confront wild weather, development pressure, and pipelines. The transformation of Tina into Atina, from confused teenager to strong, passionate, and committed leader in organic agriculture. A powerful argument for organic farming and a must read for anyone thinking of farming—a vivid and realistic picture of the beauties, satisfactions, and stresses of farming as a way of life. And finally, a vision of hope for the future: blending intuitive faith in our oneness with Nature, the most advanced biological science, and the power of community." —Elizabeth Henderson, author of Sharing The Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture
"What strikes me most about this amazing memoir is that for those of us who aren’t farmers but who are versant in such issues as organics, soil building, diversity, GMOs, certification and more—it is utterly different to hear how the farmer herself grapples with them in her daily life. Unlike reading about the same issues in an article, it’s immediate, powerful, tender, heartbreaking and above all, encouraging." —Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors, Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers Markets
"By offering a look inside her own experience, and often her own heart, Diffley creates a multi-faceted, powerful, and compelling memoir about trying to live organically." —ForeWord Review
"An education on organic farming and its importance, as well as a heartfelt love letter to the land." —Kirkus Reviews
"Like her own farm, this book offers an abundant crop: practical-minded readers will appreciate the how-to’s of soil building and crop rotation as well as information on the rigors of meeting FDA organic standards. Those seeking inspiration will enjoy the story of a single mother’s dogged effort to follow her bliss. All readers will enjoy the organic ethic beautifully demonstrated in the author’s close observation of and deep deference to nature. . . . a satisfying, instructive book." —Library Journal
"Diffley fluently conveys the mind-boggling demands of organic farming in intimately personal and intricately factual ways. From the microbial soil that nourishes crops and the native grasses that lure pollinating bees to the ancient trees that shelter scavenger owls and the dedicated people who stay attuned to the delicate symbiotic relationships among them all, the thriving ecosystem of a family farm nurtures a world far beyond its borders." —Booklist