New Book by Rhodes Alumnus and Truman Scholar Brooks Lamb Lifts Up Stories of Farmers Who Persist Despite Adversity

head and shoulder image of Brooks Lamb

History alumnus Brooks Lamb ’17 published Overton Park: A People’s History in 2019, a book he began writing while a student at Rhodes. Now he has a second book just out, titled Love for the Land: Lessons from Farmers Who Persist in Place (Yale University Press).

In this new book, Lamb draws from in-depth interviews and on-the-ground experiences to tell the stories of small- and mid-scale farmers who continue caring for their land despite challenges such as farmland loss from suburban sprawl, agricultural consolidation, and, for farmers of color, racial injustice.

Norman Wirzba, author of This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World, said, “Love for the Land puts readers directly in touch with farmers, highlighting their hopes and concerns as they navigate a complex agricultural and land management landscape. Given the absence of farmer voices in today’s increasingly urban world, this book is more necessary than ever.”

Beyond his work as a writer, Lamb is the land protection and access specialist at American Farmland Trust. When they can find time, he and his wife, Regan Adolph (Rhodes College Class of 2016), also help care for his family’s farm in Chapel Hill, TN.

image of book cover for Love for the Land

Lamb received the prestigious Truman Scholarship while a student at Rhodes, and he worked as rural conservation manager for The Land Trust for Tennessee after graduation. He also earned a master’s degree from Yale School of the Environment. There, he won the Strachan Donnelley Award, the school’s highest academic honor.

“Rhodes is a special place. The college helped make me who I am,” said Lamb. “For experiences in the Memphis community, conversations with friends and classmates, academic and life lessons from world-class professors, I will always be grateful for my holistic Rhodes education.”

Lamb’s biggest hope for this new book is that it makes a difference. “People-place relationships are important. Many of the small farmers I interviewed have cultivated a deep affection for their land, and that love has fueled their perseverance and stewardship, even in the face of tremendous hardships. Whether we live in rural communities, suburbs, big cities, or somewhere in between, we can learn from their example. We can all connect with, commit to, and care for the earth wherever we are,” he said. “It may sound cliché, but our future depends on it.”

Lamb will be signing Love for the Land  2-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at Novel Bookstore (387 Perkins Ext.). The event is free and open to the public. He’ll also be speaking at Rhodes College on Oct. 10. You can learn more about Brooks and the book on his website.