A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail
“This is not the story of a ready-made farm, complete with generations of history, carefully tended tools and sturdy clapboard farmhouse.” In 2006, Jenna Butler and her partner, Thomas, purchased “160 acres, more or less” of rough northern bush. They knew they weren’t purchasing anything more than hard work and hope, but still they headed up every weekend to clear a spot in those woods where they could plant their first crops.
With the warm wit of Barbara Kingsolver and the stark beauty of Sharon Butala’s writings on the prairie, Jenna Butler shares her journey with us. From beating a hasty retreat from the first overwhelming swarm of mosquitoes, to discussing worm poop with local farmers and becoming forever more the crazy hippie teachers, the stories of Larch Farm spill out of these pages. A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail is a beguiling read, as rich and promising as freshly turned earth.
From her ‘mad little farm’ on the edge of the northern forest, Jenna Butler — poet, essayist and X-treme gardener — has brought in a harvest of home truths. A Profession of Hope is a deep and inspiring meditation on what it means to care for the places we love.
— Candace Savage
A Profession of Hope is memoir, paean and plea for caring. Jenna Butler makes a passionate, lyric case for a small organic farm ‘two scant growing zones off the Arctic’ and – as poets can do so well – she connects the local and immediate to the big issues of human life on this planet.
— Alice Major
Crazy. Committed. Clear-eyed and alive to the contradictions involved when two city folks take up week-end farming. Jenna Butler has written a book in which you can enjoy the impossibilities of going up against the current of auto-based urban sprawl, humbly, knowing that you can’t truly do a thing to change the course of things, knowing also that you can do no other. Smitten by an unpromising northern acreage, she willingly puts her all into growing a sustainable livelihood, practical by necessity, yet wide-eyed in wonder at what grows from this holy foolishness. Taking it all in, and writing it down, beautifully.
— John Terpstra