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Alumna author returns to SMC for book reading, signing

| Friday, August 28, 2015

This Monday, Saint Mary’s College is hosting alumna Mary Grace Foxwell, class of 2007, and her father Alan Guebert for a reading and signing of their recently released memoir, “The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey.”

Guebert, a nationally syndicated agricultural columnist, co-authored the book with his daughter.

“The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey” was recently included on Bon Appetit Magazine’s “20 New Food Books to Read This Summer,” Los Angeles Magazine’s “A Summer Reading List for Foodies” and Food Tank’s “2015 Summer Reading List.”

The book is a collection of memories gathered from Guebert’s stories and reflections written for his weekly “Farm and Food File” column, which has run in the South Bend Tribune and 70 other newspapers for more than 20 years, Foxwell said.

“[My father] started writing the column when I was just a young girl,” she said. “Most of the book’s characters had passed away long before I was born. Yet as long as I can remember, he’s told these stories of Indian Farm — not only to me and my brother, but also column readers from Maryland to Montana — and many of us have asked him to compile a memoir.

“It wasn’t just me urging my father to take on a book project — many other folks were as well.”

According to the Foxwell Digital website, Indian farm was a 720-acre, 100-cow dairy farm in Southern Illinois where Guebert grew up during the 1960s. The stories and memories related in “The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey” are products of the time Foxwell’s father spent on the farm.

With a mutual respect for their unique gifts and abilities, the father-daughter team worked together to share numerous lesson-filled memories to readers outside their immediate family and the news column, Foxwell said.

“I wanted the lessons he and I have learned from the hired men, my grandparents and my great-great-Uncle Honey to affect and inform others, and to possibly make people think about how rural communities have changed, what our small towns and farms are missing and how we can return the real ‘culture’ to agriculture someday,” Foxwell said.

Foxwell combined all her various interests in food, cooking, writing, editing, reading and telling stories in an effort to write a memoir that will inspire conversations between communities, she said.

“We need to talk about where our food comes from, who grows and packages it, how our rural communities and towns have changed, where we want our future food policies to be directed and how we want our global food system to look in another generation or two,” Foxwell said. “We also need to remember the simple lessons from Indian Farm: hard work, humility and caring for our community and for the land.

“Publishing a memoir is one way to start that conversation, but there are countless other ways to share your voice with the world.”

Foxwell, who majored in humanistic studies at Saint Mary’s, said she believes the major provided her with the self-confidence and skills required to take on the multifaceted project. She said humanistic studies deepened her love for reading and learning, both of which enabled her to complete the memoir with her father.

“My father and I like to say that great writers are first and foremost great readers,” Foxwell said. “And I think that’s why we could both take on this project knowing the other person had a shared zeal and appreciation for the written word.”

The event will take place Monday, Aug. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Rice Commons in the student center. Copies will be available for purchase at the signing.

Additional information, including future events and contact information, can be found at www.farmandfoodfile.com.

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

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