A good farmer

“A good farmer in our times has to know more about more things than a man in any other profession. He has to be a biologist, a veterinary, a mechanic, a botanist, a horticulturist, and many other things, and he has to have an open mind, eager and ready to absorb new knowledge and new ideas and new ideals.

A good farmer is always one of the most intelligent and best educated men in our society. We have been inclined in our wild industrial development, to forget that agriculture is the base of our whole economy and that in the economic structure of the nation it is always the cornerstone. It has always been so throughout history, and it will continue to be so until there are no more men on this earth. We are apt to forget that the man who owns the land and cherishes it and works it well is the source of our stability as a nation, not only in the economic but the social sense as well. Few great leaders ever came out of city slums or even suburbs…most of the men who have molded the destinies of the nation have come off the land or from small towns. The great majority of leaders, even in the world of industry and finance, have come from here. As a nation, we do not value our farmers enough; indeed I believe that good farmers do not value themselves highly enough. I have known all kinds of people, many of them celebrated in many countries, but for companionship, good conversation, intelligence and the power of stimulating one’s mind, there are none I would place above the farmer.

But there are two other qualities, beyond the realm of the inquiring mind or the weight of education, without which no man could be a good farmer. These I believe are born in him. They are a passionate feeling for the soil he owns and an understanding and sympathy for his animals. I do not believe that these traits can be acquired; they are almost mystical qualities, belonging only to people who are a little “teched” [touched] and very close to Nature itself.”

Louis Bromfield, Pleasant Valley, 1943, pp51-52.

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7 thoughts on “A good farmer

  1. Mr. Bromfield most likely could not envision a world in which most of the farm land is owned by consortia of financiers. Not only do they lack a “feeling for the soil [they] own,” they will sell out as soon as the rate of increase in profit margin starts to flatten. How can an honest farmer compete with that?

    • He actually did see that happening Matt, and had some interesting things to say about it. More important than what he said though, that reality was in fact a major motivating factor in why he bought his Malabar Farm and spent the latter part of his life practicing and preaching sustainable/conservation agriculture. He was a very interesting guy and I hope to have more to say about him, since I am now perusing his personal library, which was terrific.

    • Thanks for the link to Malabar farm. Here in the Seattle area, there is an explosion of interest in sustainable food, backyard chickens, etc. I’m all in, I got my third generation of new hens this spring. I was thrilled to meet a young lady at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market selling heirloom bean varieties grown by volunteers at a nonprofit farm dedicated to sustainability.

  2. Jim,
    Any comments on this paper?
    A likelihood perspective on tree-ring
    standardization: eliminating modern
    sample bias
    J. Cecile, C. Pagnutti, and M. Anand
    University of Guelph, School of Environmental Sciences, Guelph, Canada

    The topic is similar to your “Problems in Dendro” series but much harder for me to follow because it lacks the graphs you showed.

    • Yes Matt and in fact the lead author and I have corresponded a bit on it and about my series as well. I’ll try to have some things to say about it but man I have zero time right now.

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