Carving Out a Living on the Land
Lessons in Resourcefulness and Craft from an Unusual Christmas Tree Farm
When he first envisioned becoming a farmer, author Emmet Van Driesche never imagined his main crop would be Christmas trees, nor that such a tree farm could be more of a managed forest than the conventional grid of perfectly sheared trees. Carving Out a Living on the Land tells the story of how Van Driesche navigated changing life circumstances, took advantage of unexpected opportunities, and leveraged new and old skills to piece together an economically viable living, while at the same time respecting the land’s complex ecological relationships.
From spoon carving to scything, coppicing to wreath-making, Carving Out a Living on the Land proves that you don’t need acres of expensive bottomland to start your land-based venture, but rather the creativity and vision to see what might be done with that rocky section or ditch or patch of trees too small to log. You can lease instead of buy; build flexible, temporary structures rather than sink money into permanent ones; and take over an existing operation rather than start from scratch. What matters are your unique circumstances, talents, and interests, which when combined with what the land is capable of producing, can create a fulfilling and meaningful farming life.
Reviews and Praise
"The lessons here, cleanly told, serve the aspiring farmer, small business owner, and demonstrate not just how to run a farm, but how to build a sustainable and deeply satisfying life with the skills you have, and the ones you can learn."—Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review—
"Van Driesche’s charmingly pragmatic account of running a Christmas tree farm in Western Massachusetts with his wife, Cecilia, resembles a mini-MBA for farmers in its breadth and depth of insight. . . Filled with a practical and open-minded approach to problem-solving that agrarians and urbanites alike will find refreshing, [this] book provides an invigorating paean to seizing opportunities, finding one’s strengths, and working hard."
“In this no-nonsense resource for novice Christmas Tree farmers (and all farmers), Van Driesche shares his sustainable success story in pragmatic and engaging detail.”—Forrest Pritchard, farmer; New York Times best-selling author of Gaining Ground
“A couple of years ago I bought a Christmas tree from Emmet Van Driesche’s little family in the woods. I immediately wanted to move in with them. They radiated the kind of peaceful contentment that comes with doing work that makes sense to you and that you are good at. But since moving in with them would be creepy, I am glad to have this book, a thorough and generous guide to shaping your world not only to your own happiness, but the world’s as well.”—John Hodgman, host of Judge John Hodgman; author of Vacationland
“Carving Out a Living on the Land describes the joy of living a simpler life in tune with nature, without skipping on the nitty gritty of hard work and paying the bills. Along the way, Emmet shows that spoon carving is not just a wonderful pastime but can be part of a thriving modern business, filling one’s time between the hustle and bustle of childcare and tree cutting with calm, spoon-y industriousness.”—Barn the Spoon, founder, Spoon Club and The Green Wood Guild; author of Spoon