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View from the Fazenda

A Tale of the Brazilian Heartlands

Ellen Bromfield Geld


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (2/1/2003)


“I imagine everyone has a center of gravity,” says Ellen Bromfield Geld. “Something which binds one to the earth and gives sense and direction to what one does.” For Ellen, this center is a writing table before a window that looks out upon groves of pecan trees and mahogany-colored cattle in seas of grass. The place is Fazenda Pau D’Alho, Brazil, where she and her husband, Carson, have lived and farmed since 1961.

Healing the ravaged coffee plantation, rearing five children, exploring the outposts, the Gelds have created a dynamic yet peaceful life far from Ellen’s native Ohio. Their practice of sustainable agriculture, and Ellen’s plea for the preservation of Brazil’s remaining wilderness areas, reflect the legacy of her father, the novelist and farm visionary Louis Bromfield. Their shared vision is crystallized in her account of a cattle drive across the Pantanal, the vast flood plain on Brazil’s side of the Paraguay River. She describes a two-hundred year symbiosis between ranchers and a fragile ecosystem that is being threatened by development.

View from the Fazenda is distilled from fifty years of living in Brazil, weaving daily life on the farm into her quest to understand a nation. It portrays a true melting pot of people who—as conquerers, immigrants, or slaves, their blood and history mingled with those of native Indians—have created the character of Brazil. This huge, diverse county, living in several eras at the same time, is ever changing through its people’s amazing ability to “find a way.”

Ellen Bromfield Geld evokes the land and people of Brazil and offers readers an invigorating glimpse into a soulful life. “It seems to me that being a bit of a poet is perhaps the only way one can survive as a farmer,” she explains. “For in the end, more than anything, farming is a way of life you either love or become bitter enduring.”

Praise For View from the Fazenda: A Tale of the Brazilian Heartlands

“Ellen Bromfield Geld couldn’t have had a better teacher in all the world than her father. Her writing and her life in Brazil vividly reflect the strength of Louis Bromfield’s convictions, his love of the land and the enduring importance of his legacy.”—Lauren Bacall

“This is the story of an amazing American couple who with courage and wit but little money, start a homestead adventure in a foreign land and, against all odds, turn it into a successful farm.”—Gene Logsdon, author of The Man Who Created Paradise

“In oftentimes poetic language, she paints a portrait as diverse as the country itself as she traverses to its far corners over the ensuing years. Whether riding a vintage paddle-wheel steamer down the Sao Francisco River, taking a group of visiting U.S. farmers on tour, attending Carnaval, or traveling deep into a mountainside where garimpeiros search for diamonds, Geld discusses history, politics and culture.”—ForeWord

Ohio University Press, 9780821414743, 320pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 2003

About the Author

Writer, farmer, and conservationist Ellen Bromfield Geld lives in Brazil. She has long written for Brazil's leading newspaper, O Estado de São Paulo, and is the author of nine books, including The Heritage, The Garlic Tree, and A Timeless Place for which she won an Ohioana Book Award.