We are a long time removed from the era in which farming represented the majority of southeastern Wisconsin's economy, but there remain many people who make a living on farms in the region.
Writer Anna Blessing highlights compelling stories of farms in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest in her book, Locally Grown. In her acknowledgements, Blessing described the farmers she met “heroes," who approach their work as a kind of art.
"What they are doing is some of the hardest work that I've ever seen in my life," she says. "They work from literally dawn to well past dark, frequently lighting fields with headlights to harvest. And they're such hard workers, and they do this thing that's so unpredictable, that's so based on the weather and it's so hard."
The book profiles smaller-scale farms, often family-operated for generations, which have had to evolve with the rise of factory farming. Blessing lauds their creativity in their dedication to growing and raising heritage plants and animals.
"It's an art form, and what they're doing it just - it's that combination between the science and the art and they're doing this very essential thing, which is growing food for us to eat," she explains.
This conversation originally aired on July 18, 2012.
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