The first book I finished this year was The Bottom Line. It was the cover that attracted me, the red soils and farmland taking me back to my childhood, spent on a farm not far from where Richard Winkfield was writing.
The book is made up of short articles, written by the author some three decades ago, for The Farmer magazine in Zimbabwe. As well as being a columnist, Richard Winkfield used to run the Agricultural Research Trust (ART) farm, outside Harare. He was the director there from 1985 – 2000, the years covered by this collection of articles, years that began with such hope for Zimbabwe’s farmers.
I know about that time, but for much of it I was outside the country. I missed the day to day, and was not present during the destructive years that ripped the farms and the farming communities apart. Reading The Bottom Line took me back there.
The stories and advice are aimed at fellow farmers. Minimum tillage is a big theme, alongisde personnel issues, and glimpses of what’s going on in the rest of the world. The book is full of resilience and hope, and refuses to let go of that hope, despite the anguish it refers to at the end.
I found the read both easy and unsettling – a bit like watching a storm develop off a shore that cannot see what is about to hit it.
If you’re interested in Zimbabwe’s farming story I hope you’ll be able to find a copy of the book. I only wish I had bought more than one. In case it might be of use here is the ISBN: 978-0-7974-4688-5.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023