The Good Farmer

| July / August 2004

Kentucky native Barbara Kingsolver reclaims her rural roots

Sometime around my 40th birthday I began an earnest study of agriculture. I worked quietly on this project, speaking of my new interest to almost no one because of what they might think. Specifically, they might think I was out of my mind.

Why? Because at this moment in history it's considered smart to get out of agriculture. And because I was already embarked on a career as a writer, doing work that many people might consider intellectual and therefore superior to anything involving the risk of dirty fingernails. Also, as a woman in my early 40s, I conformed to no right-minded picture of an apprentice farmer. And finally, with some chagrin I'll admit that I grew up among farmers and spent the first decades of my life plotting my escape from a place that seemed to offer me almost no potential for economic, intellectual, or spiritual satisfaction.