Wendell Berry audio excerpt
Wendell Berry and Naturalistic Sacramentalism

Wendell Berry among the American Agrarians

World War II put an end to most mid-century agrarian dreams of a simplified, home-centered economic order. Promising developments during the 1920s and ‘30s were swept aside by the greatest centralizing, industrializing, and complex event in human history. Standing almost alone as a national voice for Agrarianism after 1960 was the novelist, poet, essayist, and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry.

He paid homage to Thomas Jefferson for advancing the ideal “that as many as possible should share in the ownership of the land” and so be bound to it “by the investment of love and work” and by family bonds, memory, and tradition. As had Andrew Lytle, Berry yearned “with a kind of homesickness” for the “naturalness of a highly-diversified, multi-purpose landscape, democratically divided” and “hospitable to the wild lives of plants and animals and to the wild play of human children.” Along with Ralph Borsodi, Berry shared enthusiasm for the recovery of self-sufficient farming. “Commercial farming must never be separated from subsistence farming,” he maintained. “The farm family should live from the farm.”

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