A Review of
Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace
Kimberly K. Smith
Paperback: UPress of Kansas, 2003
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Reviewed by Sam F. Chamelin
With the establishment of every new farmer’s market and urban rooftop garden, the marriage of agrarianism and environmentalism becomes more an assumption than experiment. In a different era, concerns about issues such as GMO’s and topsoil erosion would be considered divergent and unrelated subjects. Increasingly, we see these topics related to one another in critical ways, and there is a deep hunger for communal living in an intentional place. Much of the enthusiasm for these movements can be attributed to the inimitable pen of Wendell Berry. In Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace, Kimberly K. Smith offers us a thoughtful roadmap to Wendell Berry’s environmental agrarianism. If, in the 21st century, we assume an easy combination of these divergent DNA strands, it is because of Berry, as Smith notes, “If Berry’s ecological agrarianism doesn’t look particularly innovative to us, it is because he makes the marriage of agrarian and environmental though seem so natural that we assume agrarianism always implied ecological sensitivity – or that ecological sensitivity always implied support for family farming.”