When I heard that Wendell Berry was going to be at IU I was stoked. Then I found out that not only would he be there but he would be discussing a topic very near to my heart with Wes Jackson. Both of these visionary men have spent much of their careers promoting a different way of growing food than our current methods which include lots of annual monocultures which require lots of pesticides and herbicides. They talked of sustainable agriculture. Their conversation that night can be heard here. I encourage you to listen, not only are these men the visionaries and radicals of our time, they are also very good friends. This made for some entertaining banter.
My husband had been gone for a week on a hunting and work trip and was exhausted but agreed to go with me (he rocks). Since we both are passionate about this subject, he to found it to be quite interesting. We also took our 5 year old and she was awesome, especially considering there was standing room only and we were standing in the very back. She sat on the floor and colored. It was a fun family night (yes I know I'm an incurable geek!)
I won't go into detail about the conversation but I'll tell you what parts really spoke to me. I had heard Wes speak at a conference in late 2006 about nonpoint source pollution so I was already familiar with much of his research at the Land Institute. I had never heard Mr. Berry speak and found that as fellow Kentuckians we had a common heritage. He spoke of the farm he grew up on and it reminded me greatly of the small farm I was raised on. He even talked of working in tobacco and how this cash crop was very valuable for his family. Money from tobacco helped our family in many situations, including assisting in some of my college costs. Wes also talked about lots of hoeing, which I could much identify with. My hoeing experience was with tobacco and his with strawberries. The men talked of work and what it meant to them. Berry told of how a recent article was entitled "Work less live more". When did living and work become mutually exclusive? He postulated that perhaps if people feel this way then they are in the wrong vocation. Wes also elaborated that work is about satisfaction and not fun. Not that it can't be fun at times but we should focus on work that is satisfying. As Berry said, if it is torturous then do something else!! My favorite quote of the evening came from Berry who quoted his father " If you want people to love their country, then let them own a piece of it." Very true. I encourage you to listen the discussion, it's informative and entertaining. These men are in their 70's so we won't have them around many more years and we have much to learn from them.