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Back to the land

(article, Liz Crain)

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Here, in part II of my three-part look at do-gooder food blogs, I'm profiling an agro-blog: I Heart Small Farms, which rises above day-to-day journaling, making social change a substantial part of its mission.

Back-to-the-land blogs use a high-tech medium to focus on a low-tech topic: the joys of our agricultural heritage.

p(blue). Blog: I Heart Small Farms
Average posts per month: 12
Blogger: Tana Butler
Age: 47
Blog place of origin: Soquel, California


h1. Liz's faves


My top posts on this blog are Photo Array, Community Outreach, and Year of the Pig.


Tana Butler has been photographing small farms and ranches since 1999, when she began working with the much lauded farm-to-table Santa Cruz dinner group Outstanding in the Field. 

[%image "tana" float=right caption="Tana Butler"]

In the spring of 2005, Butler decided that her continuing interest and connection with small farms should evolve and be shared. I Heart Small Farms is a frank and personal look at day-to-day farming, agricultural economics, farmers’ markets, and CSAs, mainly in the Santa Cruz area. A major draw to Butler’s site is her photography, presented in colorful quilt-like photo albums with titles such as “Glorious Farm Food” and “Farmers’ Markets.” 

Another standout on I Heart Small Farms is little Logan, Butler’s three-year-old grandson, who often accompanies his Nana on roll-up-the-sleeves farm trips. 

Why do you think small farms should be part of the blogosphere?
Farms are not only beautiful, but the most important thing in the world — along with who cares for our children. I want to see them and tell their stories, because it is through these stories that we come to realize the truth of Barbara Kingsolver's words: “Whatever lofty things you might accomplish today, you will do them only because you first ate something that grew out of dirt.”

[%image "garlic" float=left caption="Garlic at a farmers' market."]

What type of food blogs do you find the most interesting?
Good writing and/or good photography keep me coming back. I can overlook bad photography, but not bad writing. ("Bad" can mean uneducated, dull, pretentious, or unoriginal.) I avoid the mundane, I embrace the irreverent, and I really respect writers who have found their authentic voices. Good writing simply rings. 

A little social activism is nice, too, as long as it's not self-righteous and humorless. I love funny people who can think for themselves. I'm Mad and I Eat, MattBites, David Lebovitz, and Michael Ruhlman can be funny, and entertain as they educate. It doesn't get better than that.

[%image "tomatillos" float=right caption="Ripening on the vine."]

Do you ever feel like blogging is a waste of time?
Not my_ blogging — I love what I get to do! I wish I had more time and resources to do justice to those who grow and prepare good, clean, honest food. The gadfly aspect of my writing is something people have to accept. 

I like being one of the people in the world who is stripping away the illusions that advertisers would have us swallow, literally, without question. I try to "add my light to the sum of light," and hope my work is positive. But sometimes I have to pop the bad guys. That can be fun.

p(bio). Liz Crain is a writer based in Portland, Oregon.

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