Fate of the People Linked to Fate of the Land


“There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people.”

Thus spoke renowned essayist, poet and farmer Wendell Berry as on April 23 he delivered the annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Where he lives in Kentucky, Berry said, it has become impossible to close one’s eyes to the consequences of systematic land abuse, because the impacts of mountaintop-removal coal mining are everywhere felt and seen. “Corn and bean monocultures destroy the land more slowly,” he added, “but down the way, down the line, the destruction will be as complete.” “There is a growing movement among people who do not ignore those problems, whose work is the by now well-established effort to build or rebuild local economies, starting with economies of food,” an enterprise Berry described as “both attractive and necessary.” The movement to create and support farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture farms, and other local food economies, Berry said, is driven by “ordinary people who have seen what needed to be done and have started doing it.” The full text of Berry’s lecture is here. And an online video record of the talk is here.

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