A Farmer’s Almanac for the Future
This month, The Greenhorns are proud to present The 2013 New Farmer’s Almanac. Following in the tradition of Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard” and planting calendars like Stella Natura, the New Farmer’s Almanac brims with practical wisdom, parables and proverbs, poetry and song, moon and tidal cycles, astrological charts, and of course ample consideration of the year’s weather.
This latest rendition remixes the old model by drawing from the written and artistic invention of a gritty new farming generation. In all, 120 contributors offer their perspectives in word and picture, bringing to light an untold agricultural history taking place right now. Included are tales and selections from a range of classic agricultural literature alongside modern meditations on current food politics; heirloom tomato lore and homemade recipes side-by-side with historic documents and reportage from the front lines of the contemporary agrarian movement that is now underway.
The following is a preview of the 2013 New Farmer’s Almanac:
Almanacs in a Utopian Age
by Rick Prelinger
Almanacs linked farmers with the work of earth and sky and the world of ideas. They thrived in an age of isolation that is almost unimaginable today, a time when there was no radio and newspapers moved slowly by mail. They were often the only books in their households besides Bibles, and they were meant to supply families with a whole year of reading.
Today most of us are a message or a flight away from one another (though we’d do well not to count on that forever). Our shared mind is clogged with rants, overnight sensations, and big ideas. More than ever we need almanacs to provide what we can’t get online: carefully edited collections of smaller notions, hints, hacks and hard information that might appear simple, but when taken with a tall glass of water expand into mind-changing, load-lightening, actionable ideas. An almanac is a little book hiding an encyclopedia within its covers. Its job is to offer proverbs that turn into projects, household hints that help harvests flourish, facts that keep animals healthy and plants straight on their stems.
I love the puzzles in old almanacs, but I love even more how they conclude: “Solution in next year’s Almanac.” Patience is civil disobedience in our era of speed. Some things take their own time.
The Greenhorns mission is to promote, recruit and support the growing movement of new and sustainable farmers in this country. The Greenhorns has produced a documentary film, a popular radio show, a book of essays— Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement, and hundreds of events for farmers across the country, including a Seed Circus and Farm Hack.
Rick Prelinger is the co-founder of the Prelinger Library, an open and appropriation friendly private library in San Francisco.