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Talking about the land

January 7, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

In a blog by Brian DeVore of the Land Stewardship Project, he describes Jim VanDerPol's newly-published collection of essays as "characterized by an acerbic sense of humor, a little cynicism and vivid descriptions - all fueled by the sharp-eyed observation skills of someone who's spent almost his entire life on the land."

VanDerPol, an area farmer, recently had his first book "Conversation With The Land" published. The book was launched last week at the office of the Land Stewardship Project in Montevideo.

The book is available at the Land Stewardship office as well as the Clean Up The River Environment (CURE) office.

"Conversation With The Land" is a collection of 59 columns VanDerPol has written during the years on a variety of agricultural-related topics. He has written for Graze magazine, which focuses on farmers who use grazing for livestock, Farming, a quarterly that is published in Ohio and the Progressive Populist.

Six or seven of the essays in "Conversations" are ones he specifically wrote for the book, VanDerPol said.

"My topics are basically farming and rural people, rural communities, the economics and politics that go along with it," VanDerPol said.

VanDerPol still actively works on his farm, Pastures A Plenty, in Kerkhoven. He said farming has changed in the last few years, but he said his family's way of farming differs from most of his neighbors. He and his wife LeeAnn, and their son and daughter-in-law make a "decent living" on just 300 acres, he said.

As for the book, VanDerPol said he doesn't write about the perspective of "riding on the tractor" as he doesn't do much of that.

A few of the essays he especially wrote for "Conversations" are about an old pickup he once had and a man who did silo-filling when his father was a farmer.

"Some of the things happened to me," VanDerPol said. "Those were different times."

Another essay is about a livestock trucker, VanDerPol said.

"It's kind of a character study," he said.

VanDerPol said his essays touch on a variety of things; there's something for everyone.

"There's dog stories in there, there's some politics, the Farm Bill, what's wrong with the Farm Bill, drainage issues," he said.

The Minnesota River is also a topic of VanDerPol's writings.

"It's just a real wide selection of different things," VanDerPol said. "Things I've noticed and saw."



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