On Wendell Berry's recent conversation

Wendell Berry’s response to the recent election? “I’m still on the losing side and that’s where I’ve taken up my residence … If Hillary Clinton had won, I would still be on the losing side. And I would just have to go to work.”

When the celebrated writer, farmer, and elder statesman of the local food movement sat down in front of a sold-out audience at Johns Hopkins University last week, the crowd seemed even more eager than usual to soak in Berry’s wisdom in this particularly fraught national moment.

The event was a public conversation between Berry and Eric Schlosser, investigative journalist and author of Fast Food Nation, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. And many in the audience—made up of people who care about the work the Center does to study the intersections between food systems, the environment, and human health—were likely feeling a great deal worried about the fate of the issues about which they care deeply.

Read the whole article by Brian Massey at Civil Eats.


Wendell Berry will deliver keynote at Writers' Workshop

The 40th annual Workshop will take place July 24-29, 2017.

The Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School, which is Kentucky’s premier writers gathering, provides an opportunity for aspiring and accomplished writers to immerse themselves in a community of people who appreciate Appalachian literature and who hail from or write about the region. This creative community comes to the Settlement to learn and teach the craft of writing through structured workshops and exchange with other writers. Both published and unpublished writers are urged to attend.

Wendell Berry, Kentucky farmer and renowned author, will deliver the Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address following a Kentucky Proud “dinner on the grounds” prepared by James Beard Award Finalist Chef Ouita Michel.

Go to Hindman Settlement School for complete information.


Wendell Berry delivers 17th Annual Dodge Lecture

On December 8, 2016 Mr. Berry delivered a talk entitled "The Thought of Limits in a Prodigal Age." The event was held at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and was sponsored by The Center for a Livable Future and the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. Introductions begin around 9:20. Mr. Berry begins at 17:50. Johns Hopkins Livestream


The Berry Farming Program and the Closure of St. Catharine College

Leah Bayens, director of The Berry Farming Program, offers an in-depth reflection on circumstances surrounding the closure of St. Catharine College and its repercussions for The Berry Farming Program.

Since June, I have held a heavy heart. I have also been angry, indignant, disoriented, and harried. This stands in sharp contrast to my springtime rhapsodizing, in an essay so long it had to be published in two parts, about the Berry Farming Program’s beautiful and fitting place at St. Catharine College. I wrote about the last four years my colleagues at The Berry Center and I spent establishing an experiential, transdisciplinary sustainable agriculture and agrarian studies program modeled on the lifework of farmer and writer Wendell Berry. I sung the praises of students who accepted the idea of a “major in homecoming,” that is, a course of study that would help them “return home, or go some other place, and dig in,” as our friend and supporter Wes Jackson put it.1 I waxed poetic about the radical Dominican Sisters of Peace, who founded the college and provided a touchstone model for how to institutionalize ecological and cultural stewardship.

Less than three months after penning that tribute, I sat with fellow faculty and staff in a small auditorium and listened to the president of our board of trustees tell us that the college would close by the end of summer. July 31 marked the end of almost two centuries of the Dominican Sisters’ community-based education in Washington County, Kentucky. The announcement came just weeks after six remarkable Berry Farming Program (BFP) students graduated with degrees in farming and ecological agrarianism. The rest of our students were left homeless for the fall semester, and nearly 120 faculty and staff scrambled to file unemployment while searching for last-minute hires. The closure created a social and physical vacuum for the community as the classrooms, library, dorms, and offices sit empty in the midst of cattle and sheep pastures while a national bank’s receiver tallies the assets (including, I might bitterly add, the BFP’s brand new walk-behind tractor and implements).

Read the complete article by Leah Bayens at The Whole Horse Project.


Post-Election Thoughts from Mary Berry and Other Environmental Leaders

A number of environmental leaders have spoken to Grist.org. Here is Mary Berry's reflection.

While I deplore the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, I wouldn’t say that I was particularly hopeful about either candidate making much difference in the place I love the most.

My home is farm country in north central Kentucky. It has been in decline through many presidents, both Democrat and Republican. Kentucky’s raw materials have been sold to the highest bidder for most of the last 200 years under, mostly, Democratic governors. So my hope doesn’t lie with politicians and it never has.

I have often needed to try to convince our friends and allies that what they think is happening in rural places is not happening. Symbols are important, but a vegetable garden on the White House lawn does not mean that anything is actually being done to level the playing field for small family farmers. The urban demand for well-raised food is going up as the rural culture is coming down.

Now a man who is a product of television and capitalism has won the presidency, and there is no pretense that he is anything else. Now we know, the cavalry is not coming.

So this my hope, that things will never get so bad that a well-intentioned person can’t do what is right in front of them to do. If they are working on what is right in front of them, then the work is local work.

My father [author and farmer Wendell Berry] says that hope is a virtue. That to have it, we must work at it. He has kept alive in my mind, as we have watched the place we love the most decline, that what we are after is possible, that we don’t win but we don’t lose either, we just keep on.

See all other responses at Grist.


Berry Center Bookstore Announces Open House

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The Bookstore at The Berry Center in New Castle, Kentucky will celebrate its Annual Open House on Saturday, December 10 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Mr. Berry, Ed McClanahan, Gray Zeitz and many others will be present for readings and signings.

An exhibit of art by Harlan Hubbard will be featured along with a demonstration of woodblock printing by Bill Caddell.

Some special attention will be given this year to Larkspur Press, Mr. Zeitz's long-running letterpress venture which has published quite a few of Mr. Berry's writings.  The event hails the release of Gabrielle Fox's Larkspur Press: Forty Years of Making Letterpress Books in a Rural Kentucky Community, 1974–2014.


Wendell Berry at Centre College

Renowned writer Wendell Berry visited Centre College Monday night to speak for a crowd of several hundred at the Norton Center. 

Berry, an 82-year-old farmer and environmental activist who has authored dozens of works over the course of more than five decades, read a pair of his works and fielded a handful of questions during the hour-long event. 

Berry read one story that examined the lives of family farmers who earn a kind of freedom caring for their small plots of land, even as industrialization consumes more and more of the world around them. 

Berry’s second piece was actually written prior to the first one, and focused on the frugal spending habits of the same rural farm families. It presented the idea that who people are cannot be represented by economic principles.

For more, go to The Advocate-Messenger.


Wendell Berry and James Rebanks, November 9

James Rebanks wandered into the literary landscape in 2015 with the release of his memoir, “The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.” A sheep farmer from Matterdale, England, Rebanks’ prose about his simple yet fulfilling lifestyle touched many people. His book received rave reviews and landed on The New York Times’ best-seller list.

Practicing a simple life also is a mantra Kentucky author, poet and farmer Wendell Berry lives by, and on Wednesday, Berry will get a chance to interview Rebanks at a free event held at the Louisville Free Public Library. Presented in partnership with Carmichael’s Bookstore, the evening should be a lively one, as two powerful writers discuss camaraderie, tradition and the poetry of rural life.

See more at Insider Louisville.