ReSounding the Call of the Land

In the early morning hours of January 31, 2013, I’m alive with the idea of publishing again the original essay* for The Call of the Land. As we move into the waning phase of Winter, feels like it’s time to join the chorus of visionary voices across North America, and to re-sound the basic broad call of the land. – S.M.

*Contemplations on The Call of the Land
by Steven McFadden
Published to start this blog in 2009

In Jack London’s classic novel The Call of the Wild, the alpha dog Buck faces a moment of truth in response to nature, as he stands amid the towering trees of a Northern forest. He must make a choice about the direction of his life.

Similarly, standing both individually and collectively on our earth, we human beings also face a moment of truth. Our call is not from the wild, but from the land. We must make a choice.


Impending matters of finance, transport, oil supply, climate stability, water availability, and diet, necessitate—right now—a clear, visionary look at our relationship with our land and an immediate wholehearted response.

Worldwide, agricultural and financial systems are mutating at breakneck speed. More change is coming. That is certain in response to fundamental shifts in the global economy and environment. These changes impact not just food cost, but also food quality and food availability.

On our land and within the context of our economy, we have commenced a transition the likes of which few are prepared for, but to which we all can respond with intelligence to attain clean, stable and enduring results.

The call of the land is exceedingly loud and urgent. In response to the call, we have the possibility of manifesting a renewed agrarian foundation for our global human culture  that is rooted in experience, adapted to the specific, contemporary needs of our earth, oriented to the future, and capable of integrating high-tech, sustainable energy, tools, and practices. This is the basic vision articulated in The Call of the Land.

The transition to a food system free of fossil fuels is in no way a utopian reverie. It is, rather, an immediate, immense, and unavoidable challenge that calls for unprecedented levels of creativity at all levels of society. While there is no single remedy for the many problems affecting our farms and our food, there are many positive paths and possibilities. Citizens in communities across North America are already deep into pioneering territory via a host of creative associations. Dozens of books on the theme have come forward, in particular, over the last 10 years.

The movement toward clean, local gardens, farms, and food is already well underway and has potential to gain further momentum as old economic forms wobble and shift. We already are beneficiaries of a great number of positive agrarian developments. Sustainable initiatives have been coming forward for over 60 years, building steadily on the agrarian traditions of earlier centuries. By now we have a host of workable models that individuals, communities, corporations, churches, and associative networks can learn from and emulate.

The economic and natural worlds are mutating around us. Inescapably, immediately, we must mobilize our strength, will, and intelligence on the essential matter of producing clean food for ourselves in a way that stabilizes and heals the land. This is the most basic and necessary idea of 21st century agrarianism.

While there may be no single remedy for the many challenges we face, there are many possible pathways that lead to healing the land. My intent with The Call of the Land is to help illuminate some of those paths by surveying the work of 21st century agrarian pioneers to reveal the many ways a sustainable agrarian foundation can serve the fragile high-tech, digital-wave culture that is emerging so dynamically in our world.

* Minor changes and corrections on 12/31/13 – SM

 END –

Copyright 2009 – by Steven McFadden

1 thought on “ReSounding the Call of the Land

  1. doug

    I think both Steven and Buck are right! As an organic dairy farmer I realize that we have to understand and appreciate the ‘wild’ processes of soil biology to heal/help the land. We have to consider what took place here prior to European settlement and then appreciate and apply that diversity as best we can upon a ‘tame’ landscape. In short, human thought over-simplifies and trivializes nature, and time and time again we misunderstand and get things (dangerously) wrong.
    Thanks for what you do Steven and keep up the good work.



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