Ellen Kok: The Other Farm
My family immigrated from Ireland to Wisconsin to pursue farming. It eventually failed like many small farms in the United States because the new generation did not want to continue in the family business. At least that’s what happened to my family’s farm when my mother and her siblings sold the land after the death of my grandparents.
The Other Farm highlights the beauty and the struggles of hard working, multi-generational, family farms. Ellen Kok follows two farms for eleven years. One in Brattleboro, Vermont in the United States and the other located in Kamerik in the Netherlands. Kok is not only a talented photographer but is also a skilled writer and journalist. In her book, the reader can enjoy both seeing and reading heartwarming stories of these two places.
Ellen Kok is a Dutch photographer and writer who combines photo essays with written stories. She firmly believes storytelling is an important art that can open eyes and connect people. Her photography is based on trust and intimacy.
Ellen studied at the School of Journalism in Utrecht, the Netherlands, before working as a photography critic for several Dutch newspapers and photography magazines and as a freelance photographer. For ten years she specialized in agricultural photography. Currently, she primarily works on in-depth documentary projects.
The Other Farm
One farm lies eight feet below sea level, in the peat meadows of the Netherlands. The Other Farm is at 750 feet in the hills of Vermont in the USA. But they have so much in common: the same family has been farming each one for three generations; they witnessed prosperity, and the increase in scale of agriculture; each made the leap to organic farming.
The book The Other Farm tells the story of two farming families who still believe in their family tradition, but who are also seeking new ways to earn a living and contribute to their communities.
Family farms are having a hard time of it in rich western countries like the Netherlands and the United States. Thousands of farmers quit every year. But you can still find farms that have been run by the same family for generations.
For a long time Dutch photographer and writer Ellen Kok wanted to understand how they keep going. What makes them successful in spite of economic pressures? Without farmers, there is no food. But why does someone become a farmer, and how important is family tradition in that choice? Is it a calling or an obligation? Does the family farm have a future in a global market that demands mass production and low prices?
In search of answers to these questions, for eleven years, since 2004, Ellen followed life on Lilac Ridge Farm in Brattleboro, Vt., and De Beekhoeve in Kamerik, in the Dutch province of Utrecht, asking questions and taking photos.
Press Release Netherlight Publishing
The book can be ordered at its own website: www.otherfarm.us
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