A Rare Interview with Wendell Berry!

When men and women have lived long and sincerely with respect to each other and our natural world, their wisdom can be refreshing and inspiring. At 80 years of age, Wendell Berry is one of those people. This documentary, featuring a rare public interview with the man, is challenging and inspiring, humorous and hopeful… worthy of reflection by those who care for the Earth and who enjoy the practice of permaculture. Enjoy!


Another Interview from 1974

This is Wendell in the early years of his speaking out for the agrarian cause. Quite ‘prophetic’ in his views as a younger man. Insightful! The Q&A and associated discussions after his speech is historically very interesting in the light of our environmental awareness today. The debate between traditional agrarian ways and that of the twentieth century industrialised approach to agriculture is palpable.

The damage that industrialised agriculture is inflicting on the soils, the reduced levels of nutrition in our food, as well as the health consequences with such a heavy dependence on chemical fertilisers and insecticides is now increasingly being verified by scientific research long after the ‘prophets’ began to speak. Around the time many others like Bill Mollison and David Holmgren began to speak out about the same issues… about the time Permaculture began to emerge as a movement.

Yet, humanity is still so far from making choices that bring about a different future. A little progress has been made maybe. This is just a small reminder to those who have stepped into the Permaculture way of life, by way of an historic look back, to keep moving forward with confidence… that the way is still being forged.

Phillip Bradley – Applied Permaculture Design

Some Inspiring Quotes by Wendell Berry

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” 
Wendell BerryThe Long-Legged House

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”
Wendell Berry

“Eating is an agricultural act.” 
Wendell BerryWhat Are People for Essays By Wendell B

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” 
Wendell Berry

“The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it or to escape what is bad in it but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.”
Wendell Berry

“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”
Wendell Berry

“While the government is “studying” and funding and organizing its Big Thought, nothing is being done. But the citizen who is willing to Think Little, and, accepting the discipline of that, to go ahead on his own, is already solving the problem. A man who is trying to live as a neighbor to his neighbors will have a lively and practical understanding of the work of peace and brotherhood, and let there be no mistake about it – he is doing that work…
A man who is willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more to the conservation movement than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways.
(pg.87, “Think Little”)” 
Wendell BerryThe Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

“I believe until fairly recently our destructions of nature were more or less unwitting — the by-products, so to speak, of our ignorance or weakness or depravity. It is our present principled and elaborately rationalized rape and plunder of the natural world that is a new thing under the sun.”
Wendell Berry

“The United States has 250 Billion tons of recoverable coal reserves – enough to last 100 years even at double the current rate of consumption.’ We humans have inhabited the earth for many thousands of years, and now we can look forward to surviving for another hundred by doubling our consumption of coal? This is national security? The world-ending fire of industrial fundamentalism may already be burning in our furnaces and engines, but if it will burn for a hundred more years, that will be fine. Surely it would be better to intend straightforwardly to contain the fire and eventually put it out! But once greed has been made an honorable motive, then you have an economy without limits. It has no place for temperance or thrift or the ecological law of return. It will do anything. It is monstrous by definition.” 
Wendell Berry

“We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free. (pg. 323, The Pleasures of Eating)”
Wendell BerryThe Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays 

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