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Wendell Berry The prolific poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry is a fifth-generation native of north central Kentucky.

He embraced full-time farming as a career, using horses and organic methods to tend the land. Harmony with nature in general, and the farming tradition in particular, is a central theme of Berry's diverse work.

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As a poet, Berry gained popularity within the literary community. Collected Poems, , was particularly well-received. Novels and short stories set in Port William, a fictional town paralleling his real-life home town of Port Royal further established his literary reputation. Berry reached his broadest audience and attained his greatest popular acclaim through his essays. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture is a springboard for contemporary environmental concerns.

In his life as well as his art, Berry has advocated a responsible, contextual relationship with individuals in a local, agrarian economy. Thus all industrial comforts and labor- saving devices are the result only of human ingenuity and determination not to mention the charity and altruism that have so conspicuously distinguished the industrial subspecies for the past two centuries , but the consequent pollution, land destruction, and social upheaval have been 'inevitable.

The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture

That is to say that what happened happened because it had to happen. Thus the apologist for the ruin of agricultural lands, economies, and communities have shown always that they did nothing to stop it because there was nothing they could have done to stop it.

The Unsettling of America Culture and

If an utterly brainless and destructive agricultural economy has been inevitable for half a century, why should it now suddenly cease to be inevitable? But if the publication of The Unsettling of America and subsequent events have shown me that throwing a rock into a frozen river does not make a ripple, they have also shown that beneath the ice the waters are strongly flowing and stirred up and full of nutrients. Beneath the cliches of official science and policy, our national conversation about agriculture is more vigorous and exciting now than it has been since the s.

Though they are still comparatively diversified, they are less diversified than they used to be. The holdings are larger, the owners are fewer.

The Unsettling of America – Farm to Text

The land is falling more and more into the hands of speculators and professional people from the cities, who--in spite of all the scientific agricultural miracles--still have much more money than farmers. Because of big technology and big economics, there is more abandoned land in the county than ever before. Many of the better farms are visibly deteriorating, for want of manpower and time and money to maintain them properly. Among the people as a whole, the focus of interest has largely shifted from the household to the automobile; the ideals of workmanship and thrift have been replaced by the goals of leisure, comfort, and entertainment.


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For Henry County plays its full part in what Maurice Telleen calls 'the world's first broad- based hedonism. Few of the farmers' children will be able to afford to stay on the farm-- perhaps even fewer will wish to do so, for it will cost too much, require too much work and worry, and it is hardly a fashionable ambition. One cannot sell milk from a few cows anymore; the law-required equipment is too expensive.


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