A Healthy Farm Culture


Board member Linda Booth Sweeney received a poignant piece by Wendell Berry from Schumacher Center for New Economics, with its mission to envision a just and sustainable global economy; apply the concepts locally; then share the results for broad replication. This writing seems relevant to the work at Gaining Ground while we address hunger relief.

A culture is not a collection of relics or ornaments, but a practical necessity, and its corruption invokes calamity. A healthy culture is a communal order of memory, insight, value, work, conviviality, reverence, aspiration. It reveals the human necessities and the human limits. It clarifies our inescapable bonds to the earth and to each other. It assures that the necessary restraints are observed, that the necessary work is done, and that it is done well.

A healthy farm culture can be based only upon familiarity and can grow only among a people soundly established upon the land; it nourishes and safe-guards a human intelligence of the earth that no amount of technology can satisfactorily replace. The growth of such a culture was once a strong possibility in the farm communities of this country. We now have only the sad remnants of those communities. If we allow another generation to pass without doing what is necessary to enhance and embolden the possibility now perishing with them, we will lose it all together. And then we will not only invoke calamity–we will deserve it.

 

From The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
by Wendell Berry

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