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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Year of Plenty

Wendell Berry’s Better Economy - Part 1

 (Craig Goodwin)
(Craig Goodwin)

At the Food and Faith Forum last week I was encouraged to here Peter Illyn from Restoring Eden mention that Wendell Berry is a rock star among many of the ecologically minded evangelical college students he works with. Berry is a poet and a farmer and a Christian and husband. His soothing southern drawl fools you into thinking that he is safe, but then you get into his writing and see that he's a subversive to the core, a revolutionary in farmers clothing. Given our current economic chaos I'm intrigued by his vision of a "better economy." Here's part 1:

"A better economy, to my way of thinking, would be one that would place its emphasis not upon the quantity of notions and luxuries but upon the quality of necessities...It would encourage workmanship to be as durable as its materials; thus a piece of furniture would have the durability not of glue but of wood. It would substitute for the pleasure of frivolity a pleasure in the high quality of essential work, in the use of good tools, in the healthful and productive countryside. It would encourage a migration from the cities back to the farms, to assure a workforce that would be sufficient not only to the production of the necessary quantities of food, but to the production of food of the best quality and to the maintenance of the land at the highest fertility..." A Continuous Harmony, page 117 

His call for people to migrate back to the farm echoes the comments of farmers from last weeks forum. They said that one of the challenges of farming is that it's hard to get people to move out to where the farms are. I would say it's even more complicated than that. Here in Spokane the farms aren't very far away but it's hard to get people to work that land too. I'm thinking about the acres of land in Pasadena Park in the middle of the city that I'd love to see the community rally around and farm. The barrier is not access to land, the barrier is access to people's time and willingness to do hard work in the dust and heat.

Year of Plenty

The Year of Plenty blog was created by Craig Goodwin in the winter of 2008 to chronicle the experiences of his family as they sought to consume everything local, used, homegrown or homemade. That journey was a wonderful introduction to people and movements in the Spokane area who are seeking the welfare of the community through local foods, farmers markets, community gardens, sustainable transportation, and more fulfilling and just patterns of consumption. In 2009 and beyond the blog will continue to report on these relationships and practices, all through the eyes of a family with young children. Craig manages the Millwood Farmers' Market, is a Master Food Preserver and Pastor at Millwood Presbyterian Church. Craig can be reached at