The American Family Farm
By: Joan Anderson & George Ancona
Publisher: Harcourt Brace, 1989
Age Level: 9-12
In the fall of 1986, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that an American farm was going out of business every six minutes. Not long after, photographer George Ancona and writer Joan Anderson set out to document this important American institution. Two years of telephone calls, research, and travel led them to focus on three very different farm families: the MacMillans, in Massachusetts, who specialize in dairy farming; the Adamses, in Georgia, who raise chickens and have created a farm cooperative; and the Rosmanns, in Iowa, who have an organic hog and grain operation.
Is the family farm a dying institution? Or is it destined to remain alive, doggedly hanging on despite threats of financial ruin and such unpredictable natural disasters as the drought of 1988?
As Ancona and Anderson bear witness to the defeats, victories, dreams—and daily chores—of families in this book. Booker T. Washington summarizes their philosophy: “No race can prosper until it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” Three farms were visited and documented. A dairy farm in Massachusetts, a chicken farm in Georgia, and a hog farm in Iowa. We see the farmers and their families at work and experience the closeness of families sharing a life of work and purpose.