Not so well-known in Europe is Wendell Berry, farmer, teacher, poet, activist, ecologist. I came across his writing in Iowa in 2009 and I was deeply moved. His writing resonated. The agrarian mind. The feeling of depth of place, of connection to land, of mysteriousness of nature. Rhythm, cycles, seasons, belonging, acceptance; place and sense making. I found his poetry incredibly powerful. Indeed, to touch land and grow food is a vital energizing force for me. In a contribution to the book Fatal Harvest he wrote:
To the agrarian mind, which is the only mind capable of rebuilding the culture of healthy soils, water cycles, richness, and diversity. May it multiply in future generations so they can recoup what has been lost and create farms and economies that are sustainable, humane and beautiful.
With lots of pleasure, but barely making a living, I see the agrarian minds in this region who work hard to create this culture of healthy soils and healthy food. They are heralded as good examples of sustainable food production but are at the same time scraping for an income. Their effort not only nourishes people but also nourishes and rebuilds local resilience, an impact far beyond current prices. Book after book appears which critiques the current culture of profit and greed, the myth of self-regulating markets, the power concentration in the food industry and the urgency for sustainable alternatives. But the larger audience seems intoxicated by passiveness. As if food, land and the planet are not urgent matters to all of us. Who wakes up the agrarian minds?