At Nature’s Pace

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The sixteen essays in AT NATURE’S PACE presents a sustained argument for the economic and environmental benefits of traditional farming practices. Gene Logsdon, a farmer from Wyanot County, Ohio, defends small-scale family farming against the agricultural policies that have encouraged overextension of farms, poor farming practices, and the bankruptcy of rural communities. Too many farmers today are greedy, he charges. They want the quick return from cash-grain farming rather than a smaller but more dependable income from a diversified farm with pasture, crop rotation, and livestock.

In “Green Fields, Red Ink,” Logsdon traces the economic cycles of boom and bust that have tempted farmers to borrow and overproduce, only to be ruined by low crop prices. He criticizes state schools of agriculture for promoting corporate agribusiness practices at the expense of the small farmer. In “The Future: More Farmers, Not Fewer,” he envisions a return to more small farms because of the increasing population density; because people will demand quality food; and because the economics of scale do not work the same way in farming as they do in manufacturing. A farmer, Logsdon insists, is a “food and fiber producer,” not an agribusinessman.

In “Amish Economics,” Logsdon praises Amish farming practices for producing more income per acre through low overhead, thrift, self-sufficiency, the use of draft animals, and diversified farm income. Amish community self-help even enables them to replace in one day large barns destroyed by tornadoes. From pasture to woodlot, farm pond to barnyard, the essays in AT NATURE’S PACE remind us of the satisfactions of traditional farming practices.