This week I picked up a copy of a new book by Wendell Berry, the dean of American agrarians. The book is a collection of essays, titled “Bringing it to the Table,” and it promises to be a rich read.
In the introduction another illustrious agrarian, Michael Pollan, notes that some of Berry’s ideas, dating back to the 1970s, prefigure the passionate national conversation now taking place concerning our farms, food, environment, and economy
I had barely cracked the cover of Berry’s new book – Essay 1, Nature as Measure — when I found myself agreeing.
Berry wrote “The fact is that we have nearly destroyed American farming, and in the process have nearly destroyed our country…How has it happened?…
“…Industrial agriculture, built according to the single standard of productivity, has dealt with nature, including human nature, in the manner of a monologist or an orator. It has not asked for anything or waited to hear any response. It has told nature what it wanted, and in various clever ways has taken what it wanted.”
For me Berry’s comments brought into focus a core theme articulated in The Call of the Land. That theme revolves around the fundamental realization that we have been dictating demands to the land for decades. Much good can come from finally becoming still enough to listen to the land now in the depth of winter, and to respond. What is the land communicating? What does it ask in reciprocity?
As documented in The Call of the Land, thousands upon thousands of farmers, households, suburbs, cities, churches, schools, and college campuses across North America are listening. They have already awakened to the necessity and value of a healthy, clean reciprocal relationship with the land. They are pioneering positive, new environmental and economic relationships with the land. These are the Millennial Agrarians, and they are are demonstrating an abundance of promising pathways forward.