Talk to any group of young farmers, farm interns, kids with liberal arts degrees who are choosing to grow kale over 401(k)s, and the common denominator is likely to be Berry. He offers more than sharp cultural criticism, compelling novels and beautiful poetry; Berry makes readers want to change their lives. For many this is done by eating differently, following Berry’s insight that “eating… is inescapably an agricultural act.” His writing inspired the local food movement as people began to understand that the health of the environment depends on our decisions at mealtime.
For some, Berry is a religious figure. I once met a woman in a coffee shop who told me that Berry’s poem “The Wild Geese” was her religion, its closing lines offering a call to be present in our places:
…we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. What we need is here.
And then there are those who, like my 22-year-old self, are drawn to radical responses. Those who consider a return to the land to farm it and care for it with all the virtues Berry works out in his writing. But how to begin, was this the right choice, and most importantly for one who lives by books—what to read? I needed guidance, and so I wrote to the one man I felt could give it: Wendell Berry.
Read the entire article by Ragan Sutterfield at WorldArk Magazine.