Wendell Berry is an amazing human being: farmer, writer, activist. His life and work inspire me as I pursue my own odd blend of technology and farming from my “chosen and cherished small place” here at Bottle Tree Farm. Last week, I spent time watching over baby pigs and reading It All Turns On Affection, a meditation on the loss of small farmers and the peaceful, sustainable life they represent. I’ve become a “sticker,” who loves the land and my place in it. Berry is unapologetic for his belief that we need to “espouse the cause of stable, restorative, locally adapted economies of mostly family-sized farms, ranches, shops, and trades.” He goes on to link this to Jefferson’s vision of America:
Naïve as it may sound now, within the context of our present faith in science, finance, and technology—the faith equally of “conservatives” and “liberals”—this cause nevertheless has an authentic source in the sticker’s hope to abide in and to live from some chosen and cherished small place—which, of course, is the agrarian vision that Thomas Jefferson spoke for, a sometimes honored human theme, minor and even fugitive, but continuous from ancient times until now. Allegiance to it, however, is not a conclusion but the beginning of thought.
I’m excited about the upcoming interview with Bill Moyers on October 4: Wendell Berry: Poet & Prophet. In anticipation, the Academy of American Poets featured this video of Berry reading The Peace of Wild Things, possibly my favorite Berry work (competing with Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front):