Soil and Spirit: Cultivation and Kinship in the Web of Life

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$26.00  $24.18
Milkweed Editions
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5.4 X 8.6 X 1.0 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author
Scott Chaskey is the author of Soil and Spirit. He is also the author of a memoir, This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm, and a book of nonfiction, Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics, and Promise of Seeds. His poetry, first printed in literary journals in the early seventies, has been widely published over four decades. A pioneer of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, for thirty years he cultivated more than sixty crops for the Peconic Land Trust at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, New York, one of the original CSAs in the country. He is past president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York and was honored as Farmer of the Year in 2013. He was a founding board member for both the Center for Whole Communities, in Vermont, and Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, in Shelter Island, New York. He taught as a poet-in-the-schools for over two decades and as an instructor for Antioch International and Friends World College in Southampton. Chaskey lives and works on the east end of Long Island, New York.
Praise for Soil and Spirit: Cultivation and Kinship in the Web of Life "Scott Chaskey embraces a deep respect for the land, the plants and animals that depend on healthy soil, and the knowledge of indigenous peoples. In his travels across borders, he finds common ground by celebrating the farmers and peasants who work the soil around the world. Chaskey's personal understanding of laboring the land is reflected in the book. In this collection of essays, he recognizes the challenges that we face and counters them with an abundance of knowledge. Many seek to repair the harm our species has caused. His message is filled with love and hope, backed by a lifetime of knowledge, and interspersed with a bit of poetry. Its rich layers rival the first forkful of silt loam in Spring or a relieving lungful of air in a forest. In just over 200 pages, this is one of the most inspirational books that I have ever read."--Todd Miller, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI "I love to watch things grow, whether it be more own plantings, the gardens of others, or the growing of things planted by Nature herself. For those who feel like I do about green things (and other species as well), there is a sadness these days that is creeping into our deepest recesses--the turning of our climate, the destruction of the land by all manner of abuses, and the mistreatment of our fellows and other species. Scott Chaskey, leader in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, brings us a message about growing things, ongoing changes, survival and, most of all, community and its power to unite us all in doing our best for our shared future. He has spent much of his life working with growers of all kinds, including indigenous peoples still utilizing the 'old ways' to sustain their families. As a poet, he understands what it means to feel with Nature. As a farmer, he knows what it means to partner with the land in a sustainable way. These essays are beautiful, thoughtful, and insightful. There really is hope, if we will simply pay attention and take that important step, doing our part to better the future. I urge everyone who cares to read this powerful, encouraging book."--Linda Bond, Auntie's Book Shop, Spokane, WA"As one of America's greatest agrarian poets and essayists, Scott Chaskey deserves recognition as a national treasure. He both expands our horizons and deepens our contemplative capacities with the astonishing connections he makes between soil, soul, and sustenance in these challenging and eloquent essays. Soil and Spirit will be read and reread for many years to come."--Gary Nabhan, author of Jesus for Farmers and Fishers: Justice for All Those Marginalized by Our Food System"Soil and Spirit is truly a feast. Scott Chaskey celebrates the emergence of beauty, nourishment, and community from the earth. The vivid range of narratives and voices here--from his adventures as a farmer in Maine, Cornwall, and Long Island to the deep love of poetry the author bears in his heart even when (or especially when) laboring in the fields--makes this an exhilarating book. Readers of Suzanne Simard's Finding the Mother Tree, Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass, and James Rebanks's Pastoral Song: A Farmer's Journey will be struck by the many levels on which Chaskey enters into dialogue with those fine achievements."--John Elder, author of The Frog Run: Words and Wildness in the Vermont Woods
"So much is happening under my nose, but I missed some of the essence until Scott came along. Following his teaching, instead of a villa with pool and tennis court, I, too, started a farm. Scott is a teacher, a mentor, a guide. He made me understand Nature through the irreplaceable wisdom of agriculture that humans have practiced for thousands of years, shaping our civilization. This book is on one level a guide to farming, and a spiritual guide to the deep emotions Nature raises in us all."--Isabella Rossellini, author and award-winning actress"Soil and Spirit stands as a beautiful meditation on the endless richness of the Earth's rocks, fungi, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and trees, and our place among them as expressed in word and deed. In this hopeful and heartfelt book, seedsman, poet, and world traveler Scott Chaskey brings a lifetime of experience to his wide-ranging exploration of our human relationship with the natural world and the many possibilities our engagement with it offers."-- Jane Brox, author of Silence

Praise for This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm"Packed with knowledge that often runs counter to conventional wisdom, as well as insights into the subtler and more difficult arts, like protecting land from the pressure to develop, or fostering an awareness that soil holds the key to plant health. An elegy to the land and to the creatures who inhabit it, this book is also a gardener's bible."--New York Times"The decades spent reading and listening widely, the time spent with plow and pen, make this book much more than simply an account of a year and a spring on one organic farm. Here Old World wisdom gleaned from one peninsula infuses experience on a New World shore. Here, too, the voices of American pioneers from Walt Whitman to Aldo Leopold weave through the argument like a trail through dewy grass. Chaskey's book is so well-rooted that one can almost shake the fine Amagansett silt from its binding."--Christian Science Monitor"The delight of [Chaskey's] writing is his balancing of the poetry of farm life with touches of humor. He also effectively summarizes the 'critical juncture' at which the organic farming movement finds itself as a result of recent federal legislation governing organic foods. His book will be a joy to read for lovers of organic farming."--Publishers Weekly"An almanac and handbook for the community organic gardener, offering hard-earned practical lessons in counterpoint with fine touches of insight, poetry, and the earthy lyricism of weather and the seasons."--Peter Mathiessen, author of Shadow Country"CSA farmer, poet, and keeper of the land Chaskey, who here leads you wonderingly through a year on his South Fork farm, is just whom you would choose to grow your food: a soul who presses his cheek to the clover to see the first emerging garlic shoots, who celebrates the sight of monarch wings among the white blossoms of his buckwheat, and who, most importantly perhaps, does not allow his love/hate relationship with the temperamental tomato keep him from growing forty-four varieties anyway--seduced by such memory-infused names as Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter. This Common Ground is for eaters, growers, poets, and other wildlife."--Joan Gussow, author of This Organic Life"I celebrate the coming of seasons and the universal language of harvests with Chaskey. He brings new life to the common ground we share."--David Mas Masumoto, author of Epitaph for a Peach and Letters to the Valley"Chaskey understands that stewardship is born of both necessity and imagination; that cultivation and wilderness, family and community, are intertwined. This Common Ground--beautifully written, and steeped in the practice of poetry and farming--is a rich and generous accounting of what it means to work the land."--Jane Brox, author of Clearing Land"One glory of Chaskey's important book, framed as a good humored, discursive amble through a year on the farm, is how he opens our eyes. . . . The greatest joy of this book is its levelheaded, wholehearted optimism. . . . All of this takes us deeply into the mysteries and responsibilities of place. . . . Readers everywhere will be led by this book to see the world around them with fresh eyes."--East Hampton StarPraise for Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics, and Promise of Seeds"An ode to the seed from a farmer who is as gifted in the field as he is on paper."--Anna Lappé, author of Diet For a Hot Planet"Land is for Chaskey soil and metaphor, a living thing, a livelihood--an idea. His land--the land beneath us all--is a lens on the largest questions. How ought we act in the world; who do we wish to be? Rarely have we been gifted a working farmer who so firmly clenches in his root system the roles of poet, historian, scholar, and philosopher. The yield here is extraordinary."--Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words"Reading these wise and pungent essays, I could imagine sitting by the wood stove with the author as he shared the lessons of a life amid the turning seasons. [...] He's ripened through the wind and rain. Like all those mysterious Irish tunes moving to a dancing rhythm. Dialogue and discovery are also central to Chaskey's essays in this collection. Perceptions and memories are alike in being seeds and Seedtime is a degree of awareness, perpetually available when we can return to what David Steindl-Rast calls the posture of gratefulness."--John Elder, author of Reading the Mountains of Home