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by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER & r & Women of the Harvest by Holly L. Bollinger and Cathy Phillips & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & E & lt;/span & very year, you wait, eagerly. Trips to the mailbox at Christmastime hold cards and presents, but that's not what you're looking for. You can barely wait for the promise of spring in the form of gardening catalogs that get you through winter until you can order plants and plan your garden. Even though it's gardening time now, don't you almost wish you could have that kind of anticipation every day?

Ever dream of making your hobby into a way of life? In Women of the Harvest by Holly L. Bollinger and Cathy Phillips (with a foreword by MaryJane Butters), you'll meet a few women who took the next step down the garden path to live life by the seasons of their land.

Right about now, you've probably got a fixed image of a female farmer stuck in your brain, don't you? She's ruddy and bibs-clad, wearing a dirty ball cap and looking over her cows and her corn field, in love with her tractor, right?

Not quite. In Women of the Harvest, Bollinger and Phillips visited a village herbalist who grows medicinal plants in the hills of Vermont while she teaches people to eat healthier. They interviewed an Ohio grandmother who runs a retreat where future farmers come to learn how to run a sustainable farm. In Florida, they met a tree farmer who avoids clear-cutting, preferring to allow for nature's cycles to play out on their own. In the Pacific Northwest, there's a woman whose goal is to live entirely off the land in her Oregon valley.

And yes, the authors met a woman who stands in the middle of her cows and one who loves her tractor.

As if they were running a paper-based coast-to-coast farm exchange program, Bollinger and Phillips give you a peek inside the lives of women who have chosen so many varied lives in agriculture. While the narrative is a little dry and lacks pizzazz, there's a better reason you should pick this book up: the photos of Women of the Harvest will take your breath away. Images of lush New England gardens compete with those of dusty Arizona cactus beds, and pictures of peaceful Colorado mountains follow those of an Oregon spread that seems to go on for miles.

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