LOG LUNCH:Writing from the Farm:Growing Food and Making Art out of Daily Life, Ellyn Gaydos, author
Fri, December 1st, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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LOG LUNCH: “Writing from the Farm: Growing Food and Making Art out of Daily Life,” Ellyn Gaydos, author of “Pig Years.” All welcome! Vegetarian, locally-grown lunch is $3 cash. Reservations required: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e44aea728a3f9c07-loglunch1#/
Ellyn Gaydos is the author of Pig Years (Knopf 2022). She works on a vegetable farm in New York where she lives with her family and two cats.
PIG YEARS, by Ellyn Gaydos
Memoirs about farming tend to slide in one of two directions: the farce or the ode. Neither of those genres is as satisfying as what we have in Ellyn Gaydos’s debut memoir, “Pig Years,” about her life as a farmhand in New York and Vermont. What this young writer has given us is more of a memento mori, rendering realistic scenes full of vivid and sometimes bizarre detail, always with an acknowledgment — on the surface or just under it — of the inescapable facts that life entails death, and growth, and arises from decay.
Gaydos is not from a farming family but, growing up in Vermont, she was drawn to the “gentle bovines with big wet brown eyes” and wanted to be part of their world. At 18, on her first job at a beef and vegetable farm near the Canadian border, she discovered she “liked being subjugated to the farm there, bending beneath the unconcerned hand of work.” She went to college, but returned to farms each spring, attracted to the “crude work of training life into channels of fecundity.”
The farmhand’s point of view has not been explored much in books. Yet if you shop at a farmers’ market or belong to a C.S.A., your vegetables were likely harvested and your eggs washed by this sweaty, itinerant work force. Gaydos is clear that she could get better paying work if she wanted to, and she never expresses a desire to own her own farm. Instead, she prefers the laborer’s day of arduous assignments received and accomplished. She is free to begin each spring season anew, broke, cheaply housed and drawn back to the work for reasons she doesn’t quite understand but is figuring out on the page.
The book covers five years of jobbing on several farms, most of them producing vegetables. These places are full of half-broken old machines and rats and are tenuously profitable. Gaydos shows how small-scale agriculture is not a moneymaking venture; the pressures of economy of scale, high land prices and a cheap but picky consumer will squash all but the most efficient producers.
Log Lunch is brought to you by the Center for Environmental Studies every Friday noon-1 at The Log. Everyone is welcome! Online reservations required due to limited space. Please join us!
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