Gaining Ground Is Inspiring And I’m Giving Away Two Copies

Inspiration for work can hit you in the most unlikely places.

Times of rest, reading, long walks taken away from my actual place of employment have helped me over the years to problem solve. It is uncanny how I almost always have to get away from work to get my head around tough issues and get clarity. Recently, I found inspiration for my work through a surprising source.

I found inspiration for what we do for families at Family Life Services through book about farming. Yes, farming.

Gaining Ground

You see I have this 4-H friend from back in the day that just happens to be a agricultural super hero. I’m not exaggerating. Forrest Pritchard, of Smith Meadows in Virginia is one amazing guy. Over the last 17 years while most of my friends were getting business degrees and moving to suburbia land, he was busy saving his family’s farm and becoming a national advocate for sustainable farming.

A year ago, when our family quit Mickey D’s and actually started eating real food, I was introduced to a foreign world. The farmer’s market. I even wrote a post on being a Farmer’s Market Virgin. My husband and I reconnected through Facebook with Forrest and his witty blog. Forrest was able to chime in and give us some sound advice for shopping local. A year later, he has written a book.

I was delighted to get an advanced reading copy of Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmer’s Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm. I expected stories about cows, tractors and musings on the the growing popularity of local farmer’s markets. What I didn’t count on was getting inspired in a new way for Family Life Services, the non-profit ministry where I serve.

Forrest is an amazing storyteller. For those of you familiar with the Clifton Strength Finder, I can put money on Communication being in his top 5. In his book Gaining Ground, he writes with great passion about the two steps forward, three steps back processes that he experienced walking out his dream of being a modern day farmer. I’ve been there, felt that pain. Not the farmer part, but the feeling at times like I was moving forward only to have major set backs delay any foreseeable progress. Frustrating, but rewarding when you stay the course.

Pitchard also knows the importance of staying the course. Hard work, dedication, great support from friends and family—all sprinkled together with some pretty hilarious stories. I was drawn in by his determination. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on the farm friends, in a good way. Americans are wising up and want to know where their food is coming from. This is a beautiful thing. Forrest’s book about organic farming allows you to take an intimate look at farm life and his stories are filled with grit, guts and goofiness.

Reading Gaining Ground, I found myself over and over again relating his experiences to what I have discovered working in the non-profit sector for almost the same amount of time he has been farming. Especially serving in a local organization that is over 70 years old. We are always looking for new innovative ways to meet the needs of people in our community. We know for future sustainability the non-profit sector must change in order to maneuver shifting cultural needs.

Solid donor relations, creative programming and community involvement are all critical for our clients to get the valuable services we provide. Mission is difficult to change, and rightly so, but methods and mediums must. I was blown away with motivation and ideas from reading this book. Did I mention that this book is about farming? Who knew?

So in an effort to spread the love I am giving away two copies so that others can read this treasure.  The give away is simple.

In the comments below give me your favorite real food. Whatever it is—but it has to be REAL. Not processed, not packaged, not something that takes you less than 5 minutes to prepare. Unless it is fresh fruit or veggies, because everyone knows this is the original fast food.

On Saturday I will take all of the comments and draw 2 for a copy of Gaining Ground.

Simple? Good. Now Go.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Gaining Ground, you can get it here. Enjoy!

UPDATE 5/19/13

Congratulations to Lindy & Ivette for winning the two copies of the book!







  1. Kayla Daniels says:

    Roasted Balsamic brussels sprouts. Cut em in half, drizzle with balsamic, a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast. They’re amazing.

  2. Julie! Wow I want this book! I will buy it as soon as it hits the market! These are the basic “goodness in life” concepts we all need to educate ourselves about, understand and do!
    Thanks soooo much

  3. My wife is an amazing choreographer of foods in ways that I would’ve never imagined possible. Of all her natural creations one of my favorites is taking fresh almonds, dicing them in whatever dicing machine you deem worthy, putting them in some olive oil on the stove top and letting them come to heat with salt sprinkled over them. They are good on salads, chicken, fish, or even in a bowl by themselves. My daughter, who just turned 2 and my be part human-part vacuum loves them, and I think would choose to eat those over any sugar-filled snack that our local supermarket may be pushing.

  4. I love roasted cauliflower or asparagus! Little olive oil, salt, pepper and into the oven it goes 🙂 it really brings out the natural sweetness in the cauliflower 🙂

  5. I LOVE peppers from the grill. Sea salt, cracked pepper and a little bit of olive oil, slap them on the grill for a few minutes of optimum heat and then enjoy. The grill brings out the flavor in the peppers and it’s a perfect summer treat. 🙂

    • Carrie- you must try peppers with EVOO and goat cheese on the grill. It is fantastic! Thanks for your comment. Good luck in the drawing friend! You would love this book.

  6. Tomatoes. Picked off of the vine from my garden. Sprinkled with salt. I prefer my black krims – they are amazing.

  7. When Hannah (now 17) was little, she said she wanted me to be a “farm girl,” to which I replied, “no way! When you grow up, YOU can be a ‘farm girl.'”

    Things are different now. Over the last few years we’ve been more intentional to have our own garden. Last year we did quite well with earth boxes and our traditional vegetable garden. This year, we have a couple of raised beds – in the FRONT YARD, two tower gardens on the deck, and built-in beds around the back of the house.

    I’ve been watching you and Jeff and taking note.

    How is it we continue to lead parallel lives? 🙂

    The book looks great! Hope I win. And maybe a field trip to his farm (and to CO) is (are) in order…

    • I would love to have my own chickens Cheryl. Which is CRAZY. Are you going to be around the Burg’ the first two weeks of July? Jeff and I are trying to nail down our dates of when we are going to get down there.

  8. Melinda Clark says:

    Fresh-picked tomatoes, chopped with fresh-picked cucumbers, drizzled with olive oil, vinegar & sprinkled with salt. Is anything better than a garden-fresh salad?

    • I didn’t start liking tomatoes until last year Melinda. Now I can’t get enough of them. By the way- I was wearing the Freshies t-shirt Jeff picked up for me and someone stopped me and yelled out I KNOW FRESHIES IN STEAMBOAT!! It was hilarious.

  9. Sues Hess says:

    Fresh picked zucchini straight out of my garden, finely sliced with some butter or olive oil and dill (from my mother-in-law’s – Ruthie – garden). Causes me to pray for Ruthie whenever I use her dill. Tom never liked zucchini before, but this is a favorite in our home throughout the weeks of zucchini harvests!

  10. Linda Stewart says:

    It might take a little longer than 5 minutes, but a mixture of quinoa, chopped tomatoes, spinach, avocado, feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Simply divine! And both my kids love it (minus the avocado).

  11. Joyce Anderson says:

    Frozen bananas & frozen berries put through a Yonana! Just like ice cream! So yummy!

  12. Strawberries!

  13. Quinoa–with any sauteed vegetable–love it! You can add it to soup, serve it as a side dish, add it to salad, so many ways to enjoy it and it is super simple to fix and is full of goodness including protein. Looking forward to reading Forrest’s book and sharing it with my farm friends! Thanks for sharing…love you guys! Hugs to the family….

  14. Jayme Lowther says:

    Julie- do you remember me brining a whole tomato in my lunch in junior high? I would eat them like an apple, still do if they are local and ripe. No recipe needed for a ripe tomato and a little salt! I can’t wait until we get to move to our farm and put in the garden. I probably need the read this book as a manual, you know I didn’t grow up Ina farm!

    • Jayme- I do remember that! I also have another memory I have to connect with you about. I will send it via FB message. It is funny how some things come back around in a good way.

  15. I would say my favorite real food is a nice, fresh cucumber with just a little bit of salt! Yummy!

  16. Avocados! I’m just addicted to them right now. On EVERYTHING or by themselves with a little lemon and salt.

    Also. I made this fantastic black bean, rmango and cilantro salad last week. SO GOOD!

    • Ivette- I never ate avocodos until last year. Now I can’t get enough. They are such a great source of fat. Love love love. Thanks for commenting. Good luck girlfriend.

  17. i love kale. kale salad in particular.. kale with lemon juice & sea salt massaged in with hemp seeds, sprouts, onion, red bell peppers and olive oil added in~ delicious!! i’m growing all the kale i can this year! 🙂 thanks so much for the wonderful giveaway- this does sound like an amazing, inspirational story!
    happy spring, everyone! 🙂

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