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Pleasant Valley -  Kate Lord (Illustrator), Louis Bromfield

 

I really enjoyed this book. I liked how the author used was able to craft vivid images with words. Pleasant Valley is a memoir, written after having been an ex-pat for nearly 30 years in many countries, but was always a bit homesick for his home in Ohio, where he had been born and lived until going to fight in WWI. With the initial rumblings in Europe in the 30's, and those in tune with what was going on recommended he and his family return, he finally heeded the call, returning to his beloved Ohio and bought a farm. He had always loved gardening/ farming and animals; the earth and watching things grow and used his farm to experiment with his theories of how to return health to otherwise "dead" soil and how to raise healthier crops naturally, without the aid of chemicals. The books not only details what he had done and what worked or not, but also goes into local lore and history (Johnny Appleseed, the Dauphin), memories of his childhood, local flora and fauna, and paints a very quaint picture with his writing. 
I was unaware of his popularity years ago, or his fame as a writer (winning the Pulitzer in 1927 for Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady), that all of his 30 books were best sellers-- many being made into movies, his friendships with other ex-pats of the era, and of his fame in the field of organic farming-- actually a pioneer in some regards. At the time, by many farmers, his notions were regarded as unsound, but the results of the output of his farm won many over. His farm was as famous as he was-- Malabar Farm, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall getting married there. According to wikipedia:
""Malabar Farm" was to become his major work during his last 20 years. Bromfield was an early proponent of organic and self-sustaining gardening, and his farm was one of the first to stop using pesticides. The farm was used as a government test site for soil conservation practices.[2] However, as recently as 2017 no-till farming is practiced by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the current Farm owner. No-till farming is highly dependent on pesticides and herbicides for pest and weed control. For example, atrazine, which has a controversial history, is one of many herbicides being applied.

Bromfield's writings turned from fiction to nonfiction and his reputation and influence as a conservationist and farmer continued to expand. Today, thousands of visitors annually visit Malabar Farm State Park, which still operates under Bromfield's management philosophy. One of the park's notable features is the Doris Duke Woods, named for philanthropist Doris Duke, who was a friend of Bromfield's and whose donation helped purchase the property after his death.

In the 1980s, Louis Bromfield was posthumously elected to the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame, and in December 1996, the centennial of his birth, the Ohio Department of Agriculture placed a bust of him in the lobby named for him at the department's new headquarters in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

The innovative and visionary work of Louis Bromfield continues to influence agricultural methodologies around the world. Malabar Brazil, under the direction of Ellen Bromfield Geld, has expanded the horizons of her father's principles and pursuits. To ensure the work continues well into the 21st century, the Malabar 2000 Foundation plans to develop a center for study at Malabar Farm to further the work begun in Richland County (Mansfield, Ohio) by Louis Bromfield.

Bromfield was close friends with acting legend, farmer and soil conservationist James Cagney."

Louis Bromfield also was involved in the creation of "Friends of the Land".:
"Friends of the land and the rise of environmentalism, 1940–1954
Article in Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 8(1):1-16 · January 1995 with 81 Reads
DOI: 10.1007/BF02286398
The rise of the postwar environmental movement is rooted in the development of ecological consciousness within intellectual circles as well as the general public. Though many commentators cite the 1960s as the focal point of the new environmentalism, the ecological ethic had actually evolved by the 1930s in the writings and speeches of both scientists and public commentators. Agricultural conservationists led the way in broadcasting the message of ecology. Friends of the Land, an agriculturally-oriented conservation organization formed in 1940 and active through the 1950s, is an interesting example of how the agricultural community was an integral component in the rise of environmentalism. While Friends of the Land flourished only for a brief period, its goals and the ideas that the group represented illustrate how the ecological ethic was burgeoning by the early-1950s. Furthermore, the history of Friends of the Land is an important chapter in the ongoing quest for ecological agriculture and societal permanence. 

Friends of the land and the rise of environmentalism, 1940–1954. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publicat... [accessed Jun 07 2018]."

I think Mr. Bromfield was a visionary, way ahead of his time, and this book is just as timely now as when he wrote it. I saw one review that said they thought Mr. Bromfield sounded kind of "braggy" through the book, but I did not feel that at all. I thought he was proud of what he had accomplished (and rightly so) despite what all the naysayers and said. His love of the earth and all things in it was apparent, and he relished in describing the beauty he saw. I am glad to have read this book, it has enriched my life in a simple but thoughtful way.