Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers

If you have taken a glance at my Readings and Ruminations page, you will notice I am starting quite the collection of books. Who knows, I may need to add moreĀ  shelf space if I keep this up. Along with the usual collection of Western paperbacks, I have everything by John Grisham and those college textbooks I paid too much for to throw away.

Along with these, I also have started a collection of Agriculture related books. Some on the history of ranch life and historic ranches. Recently I finished a book by Lisa M. Hamilton titled Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness. This was a little out of my normal reading, and I’m not all gung-ho switching to unconventional production methods, but I believe it beneficial to learn about both sides of the plate.

In Deeply Rooted, Hamilton takes readers along for the ride as she visits farmers in Texas, New Mexico, and South Dakota that have found their niche in the growing unconventional markets of Agriculture. She rides along with these farmers in their fields to gain a better understanding of their story and why they chose to separate from the mainstream in their production practices.

Instead of giving away the whole book, I will tell you that I greatly enjoyed the stories from these farmers, about their family history, and how they came to find theirselves in the organic markets. It’s a story of how these farmers work to stay in touch with their land, understand their crops and livestock, and still care about where their product goes when it leaves the farm.

Reading Deeply Rooted made me take a step back and look at how much attention I pay to the land and cattle I work with on a daily basis. It is a great message for consumers wondering if there are still farmers out there who care about the land they work and the food they produce. However, even though Hamilton’s focus in this book is on unconventional production, I do not think this the picture she paints with this book does justice to the producers in conventional production. Just because farmers and ranchers are involved in conventional production does not mean they do not have the desire to do more than what is expected.

Please give this book a read and let me know what you think about it.

Have you already read this book? Please, share your thoughts with me.


  1. I haven’t read the book, but I can already tell from your post it is something that all farmers and ranchers should read. Why? Because when you own your own place, or stay in one area all of your life you get stuck in a rut. “This is what I learned in school” or “This is they way our family has done it for a century” or “This is the way everyone does it” are all traps to get a farmer, rancher, or hired hand, trapped in to a box with fairly small parameters.

    I was raised in Northern California, and learned how people ranched there, and how they handled their livestock. Since leaving there permanently back in 74, I’ve made a circle that has cut through seven other western states. I’ve worked every kind of outfit from a small 100 cow registered outfit, to working for Leachman cattle company in Billings, Mt back in their heyday, to commercial outfits covering nearly 800 sections, and feedlots up to 90,000 head capacity, to irrigated stocker operations. The one thing I have really learned in my life is that most people who have only worked in one region of the country have a hard time taking in methods which are outside of their normal box. Anything you can read, or any experience you can get outside of your own place is a learning experience. I really think that college graduates should not be allowed to manage a place until they have worked for ten years under five different management scenarios in different regions of the country. This would give them a different perspective and a wider knowledge base to draw upon, making them better managers.

    1. Thanks Bob. I really do with those comments. With the travels in operations across several states, I have learned a lot about managing cattle that I never would have learned at home here in Arkansas. Opened my eyes to natural beef production and handling, feedyard operations, and even mountain range management. There’s quite a bit out there.

  2. Bob, you aren’t stupid, there’s a lot to learn and we can learn a lot from each other even after 40 years, or 60 years like me.’
    Been to a lot of stink bug meetings lately here in the mid-Atlantic. They are scary as heck and the people working on the problem say we are only just beginning to scratch the surface. It’s going to be a long haul. And there are some pretty knowledgeable people working on it all over the country.
    I think we can all learn something from each other, even about feeding cattle, if we just listen and apply it to our own situation.’

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