Joy was palpable in the air at the 6th National Young Farmers Conference, as Wendell Berry came to Stone Barns Center the first week in December to address the annual gathering of beginning farmers. Called at times the “prophet of rural America” and the “modern-day Thoreau,” Berry—poet, farmer, author and activist—has been writing about farming and our relationship to the land for more than four decades. In the process, he has influenced two generations of Americans to care for the land and take up farming, and many of them were present. To witness the meeting and mutual admiration between 20-something-year-old beginning farmers and 79-year-old esteemed teacher was nothing short of remarkable, and very moving. “Magical” and “life-affirming” were just some of the words farmers used to describe Berry’s presence among them.
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