Associations

Associations

Every time I attend an agricultural or writer’s meeting, I leave re-energized. I am surrounded by positive people who are interested in similar topics and who share ideas that I can implement in my own work.

It’s important to be part of these associations, whether it’s a group that meets to play tennis once a month or amateur geologists who meet at state parks to discuss the features along a creek.

Working as a farmer and writer, I am involved in two occupations that are currently known for the isolation that is seemingly written into the job description.

But it wasn’t always this way. Large crews used to gather hay by hand, and writers would congregate in the same cities or universities and bounce ideas off of each other. Continue reading “Associations”

Christmas in the Village

Christmas in the Village

It’s Christmas Eve. Tonight, our local community will gather at the town’s church, surrounded by candles, a hundred pricks in the darkness of the days near Winter Solstice. We will sing and contemplate and eat together before each family spends the next day in colorful celebration.

On Saturday, Jeff and I took care of the sheep, trimming hooves and giving shots, and then stopped by the church to deliver six straw bales that would support the nativity scene by the soaring concrete steps leading into the auditorium. He hauled them from the truck bed to the sign posts, and I kicked them into place with my steel-toed Red Wings. Continue reading “Christmas in the Village”

“If We Want to Save the Land, We Must Save the People”: Wendell Berry and Uplifting Rural Communities

“If We Want to Save the Land, We Must Save the People”: Wendell Berry and Uplifting Rural Communities

Continued from “Thoughts on Letters to a Young Farmer: Addressing Common Assumptions About Agriculture and Farming.” 

The essay by Wendell Berry had been written as a 2013 speech to the organization Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and reprinted in one of his books of essays two years later. The speech was then reprinted in the book Letters to a Young Farmer: On Food, Farming, and Our Future, where I discovered the words.

Berry is a Kentuckian whose writing can apply to rural areas across the United States. His writing is filled with advocacy for the farmer, the profession of farming, rural communities, and nature. I hadn’t read many of his essays before this, as I had trouble getting through them — not because the writing was difficult, but because I kept saying, “Yes!” to much of what he said and wanted to write it all down for future reference. I would begin scratching lines until I discovered I was about to copy an entire 20-page essay.

One reason Berry’s writing resonates so well is his frequent discussion on the connectedness of people and the land:

“…we must not speak or think of the land alone or of the people alone, but always and only of both together. If we want to save the land, we must save the people who belong to the land. If we want to save the people, we must save the land the people belong to….All of us who are living owe our lives directly to our connection to the land. I am not talking about the connection that is implied by such a term as ‘environmentalism.’ I am talking about the connection that we make economically, by work, by living, by making a living. This connection, as we see every day, is going to be either familiar, affectionate, and saving, or distant, uncaring, and destructive.” (p. 96)

Continue reading ““If We Want to Save the Land, We Must Save the People”: Wendell Berry and Uplifting Rural Communities”