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Blog Watch: Re: WB's inspiring forward and address

Civil Eats » Blog Archive » Listening to Wendell Berry.

The Unsettling of America, his critique of the myopic “get big or get out” agricultural model that dominated the 1970s, was far ahead of its time, yet seemed and still seems to sit, collecting dust, on the shelves of those who’ve made major agricultural policy decisions since the 1970s. And with the same awareness he shared in The Unsettling of America, Berry now offers a concise and declarative message for agricultural planners and farmers alike—“all farmland needs to be under perennial cover.” This is the message he’s written in the forward of a forthcoming book called Grasslands by Fred Kirschenmann.

In his address at the conference, Berry expanded on that message to describe how a spongy sod under perennial cover benefits the health of our land, watersheds and people. He elaborated on the consequences of the present, temporary and highly specialized agriculture, which is based on cheap fossil fuels and chemicals and treats living organisms as machines. This agri-industrial model is predestined to be a relic for the simple fact that it uses up to produce. Enter perennial grassland. In contrast to this agri-industrial approach, which undermines soil fertility and food security, a perennial plant-based agriculture builds, through deep and extensive root systems, a healthy, responsive sod that is more adaptable in times of drought, disease or flood. A perennial plant-based agriculture is also more supportive of natural ecosystems, increased biodiversity and soil—our common ground and connection to all. READ MORE ...

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