Among the vast corporate and smaller family-sized farms and agribusinesses of Nebraska, the old pioneering spirit of entrepreneurship is rising again, this time in the form of sustainable and organic growers, cooperatives, artisans, and visionaries—those who seek to enhance the quality of life and ensure its future on the farm, in the community, and throughout the world.
Mary Ridder profiles these enterprises in Roots of Change, a project that took her down Nebraska’s highways and byways for more than two years as she sought out, interviewed, and photographed producers of meats and wines, makers of wood products, ethanol visionaries, the patrons of a community-owned grocery story, the folks behind the state’s first year-round, locally produced food market, and the owners of a sheep’s milk dairy turned soap business. The result is a map of the future for those who wish to regain control of, and add profit to, the products of their land and their labor.
Mary Ridder lives and works on her family’s ranch near Callaway, Nebraska. She and her husband received the 2004 Citizen Award from the Center for Rural Affairs, given for remarkable grassroots assistance in agricultural public policy work.
"[Ridder is] a straightforward and engaging narrator . . . . If you or your rural community are looking for new opportunities, this little volume is a good place to start."—Nebraska Life
"Everyone [who] lives in rural America should read this book."—Small Farm Today
“A new type of agriculture involving concepts of sustainability, value added processing, and direct marketing is beginning to show promise in the otherwise bleak world of today’s agriculture. . . . Roots of Change provides compelling evidence of the opportunities this new agriculture offers and its effects on communities. . . . One of the benefits of the book is its description of the many agencies—the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center premier among them—that provide technical and financial assistance to entrepreneurs. Many an enterprise would have failed without it. For anyone interested in learning about value-added agriculture in Nebraska, reading Roots of Change should be a mandatory first step.”—James M. Peterson, Great Plains Research