Young Woman Answers Call of the Land in Powerful True Story: Farm Girl

Two years into college, bonded to a lover spiraling into addiction and 2,000 miles away from her heart’s home — a stretch of 40 certified-organic acres along the banks of the Connecticut River — Megan Baxter finds herself in starkly unfamiliar territory. She longs for the reassuring, cyclical clock of farming. It grounds her and reinforces her connection to something bigger. Hers is a profound devotion to Mother Earth; a tactile relationship with the life-giving powers of the soil. A form of worship.

And in the crucible of a rainy Portland winter, with her desire oscillating between a troubled boyfriend and the fertile fields of Vermont, Baxter chooses to embrace the future she was always meant to inhabit.

“The demands of farming — wake up, get to the farm, pick the strawberries — became the kind of schedule that was essential to me,” she said in a recent interview.

Baxter shares her stirring coming-of-age story in Farm Girl: A Memoir. Part drama, part ode, Farm Girl raises the earth up as a character and expresses Baxter’s deep love for the landscape — but she doesn’t paint it pretty; she describes it raw and rough with all the honesty and daydream of a girl imagining herself grown. It’s the story of redrawing the map of a life, of fixing a heart to 40 acres and of an outsider finding where she belongs.

Readers will experience the sweat, blood and tears that go into working at a farm in New England: the frosts, the failures and the brilliant moments of grace. Becoming a farm girl wasn’t an easy choice; Baxter fought against family and against expectations as much as she did against cold and heat. Ultimately, Farm Girl is a swift, beautiful story of growing up and rewriting a life, and prompts thoughtful introspection about the work we choose to sustain us.

Author Megan Baxter holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Vermont College of the Fine Arts and a BFA in Poetry from Goddard College. Her first book, The Coolest Monsters, A Collection of Essays, was published in 2018 by Texas Review Press. Her latest essay collection, The Body (Electric), will be published by Mad Creek Books from Ohio State Press as part of their 21st Century Essay Series.

Baxter has won numerous national awards, including a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been listed in The Best American Essays of 2019. She serves as a mentor to young writers and loves developing cross-genre and innovative creative writing pedagogy for her workshops and classes. She lives in New Hampshire where she loves walking her dogs, running and cooking with local foods. She teaches writing at Colby-Sawyer College and Southern New Hampshire University, and is starting her own small farm. She has more than 20 years of organic farming experience.

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