The inspiring and sometimes hilarious story of a family that quit the rat race and left the city to live out their ideals on an organic farm, and ended up building a model for a new kind of agriculture.
You know those books where the city folks move to the country and have all kinds of crazy misadventures? Where the barnyard is a place of bucolic harmony and each passing season brings the author closer to understanding his proper place in the natural order? You know those books where the primary objective is not so much farming, but writing about farming?
This isn’t that kind of book.
It’s true that Brent Preston and Gillian Flies did leave the city and move to the country, and they did make a lot of stupid mistakes, some of which are pretty funny in hindsight. But their goal from the beginning was to build a real farm, one that would sustain their family, heal their environment, and nourish their community. It was a goal that was achieved not through bucolic self-reflection, but through a decade of grinding toil and perseverance.
Told with humour and heart in Preston’s unflinchingly honest voice, The New Farm is the story of one family’s transition from die-hard urbanites to bona fide farmers and passionate advocates for a more just and sustainable food system. It’s the story of how a couple of young professionals learned not just how to grow food, but how to succeed at the business of farming. And it’s the story of how a small, sustainable, organic farm ended up providing not just a livelihood, but a happy, meaningful and fulfilling way of life.
BRENT PRESTON worked as a human rights investigator, aid worker, election observer and journalist on four continents before finding his true calling as a farmer. In 2003 he and his wife, Gillian Flies, abandoned successful careers in Toronto, packed up their two young children, and moved to a run-down farm outside Creemore, Ontario. Since then, they have built The New Farm into a thriving business and a leading light in the good food movement, providing organic vegetables to some of the best restaurants in Canada. Preston speaks often on food and farming issues, and writes for the Huffington Post.
“Brent Preston and his partner, Gillian Flies, are like the super supportive, always revered and forever humble god-parents of the new good food movement in Ontario. Brent’s book is as inspiring (and funny!) as he is and tells the story of his move into agriculture and what it takes to run The New Farm, one of Ontario’s favourite farms. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful book. If you love food as much as we do, you’ll love it.” —Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance
“Preston’s book speaks to how quickly the foodscape has changed and where it may be headed. The memoir is both a book about the food system and a tell-all of his journey. . . . The ups, and mostly downs, he describes might have been a trial but they do make for a good read. Preston and Flies are strongly committed to being not just farmers, but sustainable farmers.” —The Globe and Mail
“A refreshingly honest, beautifully crafted story of family life on the front lines of the good-food economy, serving double duty as a handbook for those who dream of leaving the rat race. You will be inspired.” —Alisa Smith, co-author of The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating
“It's one thing to dream of leaving behind your career to follow a more sustainable path, but how many of us have the courage to actually make that leap? Brent Preston uses brilliant storytelling and brutal honesty to describe what it takes to create both a viable organic farm and a more meaningful life for himself and his family. The New Farm is the kind of book that will inspire people to make positive change.” —Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and founder and CEO of Thrive Global
“This is a hilarious, deeply honest memoir, with profound insight into the ways in which small-scale agriculture can be a viable alternative to our havoc-wreaking current system. Now more than ever we need such wise and inspiring stories to guide us as we seek to build a more just and healthy world. I dare you to read this book and remain unmoved about the urgency for change.” —Nick Saul, president and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada
“This book has timely and important things to say about food and farming and building a more sustainable future, but it’s also a fantastic story about the new economy, a textbook case of doing well by doing good. The New Farm should be required reading for every Canadian entrepreneur.” —Arlene Dickinson, businesswoman, author, former co-host on Dragon’s Den
“Reading Brent’s book was as satisfying and as entertaining as learning the origin story of a favourite superhero. Delicious food starts with the best ingredients, and no one sets a higher standard for the food they grow than The New Farm. I hold Brent and Gillian in the same esteem as the best chefs I’ve worked with because they have forever changed the way I cook.” —Carl Heinrich, winner of Top Chef Canada