"I want readers to relish the splendor of God’s creation and to rest fully in the knowledge that He is and has always been in control. " - Sarah Philpott
I'm so excited share these Q&A's from author Sarah Philpott, about her newest book, The Growing Season: A Year of Down-on-the-Farm Devotions, that will launch October 12, 2021! I'm currently reading an advanced copy of this book, and it is incredible. I'll share a review when I'm finished with the book and link that here!
A Bit about Sarah and her Family Farm
We are a 4th generation farm in East Tennessee. We’ve traced the roots back to 1906. Our land makes up several thousand acres. As beef producers we specialize in Black Angus cattle: commercial and registered. We supply beef locally and sell cattle to feedlots across the nation. We also have a large hay operation. Our farm was founded, as most of the eastern United States farms, on tobacco. But we moved on from that crop almost a decade ago. We now commercially farm row crops such as soybeans and corn. One of our newest ventures is growing a few acres of switchgrass. This crop helps create products that are alternatives to products such as Styrofoam. Compostable food containers are created using switchgrass.
Are we a farm, a ranch, or somewhere in between? All I can say is we are well-diversified! We farm and own a few businesses as well. Our goals are to keep the land intact, create high-quality products, and continually make decisions that are good for the environment, protect our natural resources, and ensure that we can survive as a business that helps feed America.
I was blessed to grow up on a farm and watch my Dad, Grandaddy, and Grandmother work the land for the benefit of others and ourselves. We had horses and cattle. One of my earliest memories is my brother and I digging for potatoes in the backyard garden of my grandparents. It was a treasure hunt looking for those potatoes that were stored for use all fall and winter. From a very early age I saw how a farm brings continuity from one year to the next.
How did you know that The Growing Season is something God wanted you to pursue?
This book was on my heart for years. I think we can all learn from farmers and ranchers. I know I do. I learn so much from the farmers around me, the land, and the reoccurring seasonality of life. My agent, Blythe Daniels, knew that one day I wanted to share the stories of the farm with others. She called me out of the blue two years ago and said an editor told her, “I’m looking for a book written by a farm wife.” Blythe encouraged me to quickly put together a proposal so she could pitch it to the editor.
I worked frantically. I was shocked to learn that the proposal was accepted. It was then that I knew 100% that God was leading the charge on this book. In fact, the proposal was accepted at numerous publishing houses, but I wanted to go with the original editor who was specifically looking for a book written by a farm wife. That is how I came to write The Growing Season for Harvest House. This was for sure God’s timing as I wasn’t even actively pursuing getting this book to publication. This is a book that pursued me. But as they say in farming: “You have to make hay while the sun shines”! I was so happy and honored that the sun was shining on the idea for this book. I went straight to work and delivered this book all the way from seed to harvest. It is a privilege to share this book with readers.
When did you start to notice God speaking to you through everyday activities at the farm or seeing the lessons in them?
My aha moment came one day when we were taking care of our blackberry vines in our small vineyard. I asked my husband why we were pruning them, and he responded, “Cause to grow a little you gotta cut a little.” I thought that was the most profound phrase he’d ever uttered. At the time I was in a whirlwind of activities and obligations.
Like most all of us, I was weighed down with doing “too much.” Perry explained that if the plant is too stressed and can't get air it will not flourish and bear fruit.
God created the vines to need cutting back so they can bear more fruit; this is reflected in our spiritual lives as well. It was soil to soul lessons like this that I just knew I wanted to share with others.
The blackberry vines helped me to evaluate what I needed to prune in my own life and helped me to understand that it is not just “bad” things we need to prune from our lives but “good” things as well. Weighing ourselves down with too many obligations is counter to the wisdom of the Bible. I think many of us struggle with not giving our vines (i.e., lives) room enough to breathe and this can negatively impact how we function. This lesson from the farm really helped me personally make lifestyle cuts so I could bear more fruit for Him and live a life that is more peaceful.
What is your favorite season in The Growing Season?
I love all the seasons! I don’t think I could choose, although I do tend to prefer summer most of all. There is just something magical about summer evenings. My favorite summer pastime is sitting on our front porch at dusk looking at the night sky and watching our kids chase lightning bugs. I love to revel in the majesty of the natural world.
If someone is not a farmer, or is familiar with farm life, is The Growing Season a book for them?
This book is for everyone. In fact, I think it would help someone unfamiliar with farming to understand the agrarian examples from the Bible a bit better. The cycle of trusting, sowing, and reaping mirrors our daily journey with Him. This book will also make you chuckle, make you think, and draw you closer to our creator. It is for every single type of farm gal: whether they live on an actual farm, in the middle of the suburbs in an Instagram perfect farmhouse, or for gals who just enjoy eating foods grown on a farm. This book is relatable on many levels for women of all ages. If you are like me you are tasked with a million different things during the day- this book is an invitation to take time to stop and savor the abundance of God’s promises.
In the book you address Farm Gal every so often. Who is that? How do I know if I am a Farm Gal too?