A Call to Farms

Some Thoughts on Food, Money and Nonviolence In Honor of Wendell Berry

April 2022

Reader Interactions


  1. Sara Day Evans says

    Don Pratt was my father’s close friend. When we said goodbye to Don as he departed for prison, it was the first time I remember seeing my father cry. I was 9. I wrote to Don every month for the years he was in prison, and we’ve remained friends. Happy to report Don is still a community activist, founded Lexington Peace Council and has provided home, clothing, food to hundreds of kids through the years. Just a couple of months ago the city of Lexington, KY dedicated a day to Don.

    • Albert Pepe says

      A Real Hero . Theres true Power in feeding the People. Its how “tribal” Peoples naturally lived.

  2. Susan Torgerson James says

    Hi Woody, I don’t know if you remember a very long time ago on Nantucket when you composed and played music for my wedding to Chip DuMais. I remember it well and only wish I had a recording of the beautiful music you created for us. I want to commend you on this business you have created to be a response to the over consumption and greed in our society. I know you have affected great change by your philosophies and only hope that it continues to grow. I appreciate reading your thoughtful words on this terrible war that is casting a shadow on those of us who are already suffering with the pandemic. I am an artist living in Gainesville Florida where we have many local CSA‘s and other local environmental supporters. Of course we are a bit of an island in the midst of the state of Florida. And I will not even go there. I am on Instagram as Satorisilk and have been dyeing and printing on fabric with leaves from bamboo and vines growing in my overgrown backyard.
    I would love to hear from you, but understand you are most likely very busy..
    Susan Torgerson James
    352 359-4206

  3. Charlie Costello says

    A Call to Farms . . . is a call to arms, those arms being our own, arms that have hands, that help nurture the soils of our mother earth. Let us share this great song widely and nurture our soils and our souls!

  4. Helen Maslocka says

    I too grew up knowing the world changed with nuclear weaponry. It is a pivot point. We also neglect to acknowledge that evil really exists. J.K. Rowling got this, why don’t we? Those in favor of peace, eschew violence yet we must fight evil and Putin is evil. Since the dawn of time there has been battle between greed and evil and peaceful fair co-existence. This said, I witnessed at Esalen, Gorbachev and Yeltsin (at different times) have a renaissance of thinking – facilitated by Chris Price (her deceased husband cofounded Esalen). There is hope but not without action. It is not clear to me that Mariupol will be rebuilt. I am Ukrainian on both sides. I have heard stories for all my life which approximates yours in length. Horror stories. We as humans, including Yeltsin and Gorbachev have not yet enacted the lift of peace over the thrust of evil. I am afraid that it still takes removal of the perpetrator. I am deeply saddened that my dream and efforts to live in a peaceful society in my lifetime have failed so far.

    • Rick Larson says

      The Bolsheviks needed to smash apart the peasants again, this time they made a deal with Zelensky, who has been enriched by this event, and his backers.

  5. John D Brown says

    Thanks, Woody. I really resonate with your insistence on finding more accurate and effective questions to the pain we experience as we witness pain and suffering emerging out of pain and suffering. Isolation and separation from life yield toxic fruits.
    Pascal Fafard in conversation with Dan Kitterage , has some very soothing experience and teaching on what the good questions are, and whom to ask them of (which may be at least as important as the right question). https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=mm#inbox/KtbxLwGgJLkwLcZWlKJZFdLJSGlpXgBlkg?projector=1
    Nearly complete with AHA! You are a gift, Woody. Thanks.

  6. Rick Day says

    Woody, Your emails are a joy to everyone; thank you. We met in Georgia at a Georgia Organics function where you were the primary speaker. Prior to your talk we spent 10 minutes chatting about an idea I had to establish an organic, regenerative, biological farm in each County (159) in GA owned by the local residents. Go to my blog http://www.soilfirst.wordpress.com as a reminder. Over the next year I talked to dozens of foundations and corporations who were very skeptical. However, the response from individuals and restaurants was incredible. Two months after I started a blog to reach out to GA residents http://www.myfarmGA.wordpress.com , I died twice during a 16 hour triple by-pass heart operation. It took a year to recover. I believe my model is viable especially since crowd funding has taken off. I am pressing forward. If you want to be in the loop send me an email at soilfirst@comcast.net ….rick

  7. Renee says

    America’s JOB is democracy
    America’s BUSINESS is war
    The Military Industrial Complex, the entity President Eisenhower warned us about, runs the show
    The Supreme Court protects the 1%
    Congress is bought by corporations and the 1% to enact laws to benefit their bottom line and keep them out of prison
    It’s now the ‘Have’s and the ‘Never Will Have’
    The ‘Supreme Court’ ruled corporations can now pollute without consequence
    The Democrats don’t have the COJONES to keep our democracy safe
    Too much power in too few hands
    You bet!

  8. shana parker says

    An amazing and inspired piece of inviting us into your mind Woody! As cliche’ as it is my gratitude for all you bring to the movement of sanity and planetary well-being.

  9. Michael Thompson says

    Reagan coins the term “Trickle Down Economics”, but few understand this as the misinformation it truly is:

    Water naturally flows downhill, powered by Gravity;
    Money naturally flows uphill, powered by Greed.

    To make water flow uphill, or to make money flow downhill,
    Pumps are necessary, and pumps must always be primed.

    Thanks Woody, for the conversation today, I am still learning,
    and pumping as hard as I can.


  10. Mike Ortosky says

    Woody, what a therapeutic gift…this offering. Thank you. I was at the first Slow Money gathering in Santa Fe back in 2009 and later coerced you into stopping over on the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel) on your way to the BALLE conference in Charleston, SC…thank you again. Slow Money NC grew from that visit.

    Profound and poetic narratives like this irrigate and regenerate many of us who labor in this field. Your stewardship in seeding this “garden ethic” continues to have far-reaching effect.

    It would be nice to connect again. I am currently working in rural community development and also (late in life) in a design research program at NCSU College of Design looking at expanding regional food systems in our area and considering new paradigms for a new rural landscape.



  11. James McVey says

    Right on! Thank you, Woody, for guiding us again through the vast network of interconnections, allowing us to contemplate the broader context in which our devotion to local food systems operates. In fact, this is the very thing that drew me to the field (pun intended) in the first place–the array of intersections connecting the local food movement to all the big issues of our time: climate change, biodiversity, ecology, social and economic equity, health and wellbeing, etc.

    It does matter what we do. It does matter what choices each of us makes. (I can hear Thoreau whispering: “Why has every [wo]man a conscience, then?”) The planet is asking something of us now, as we behold the endless manifestations of blessed unrest.

  12. Peggy Gould says

    Audre Lorde, the brilliant poet, scholar, educator, activist and lifesaving leader for generations of people targeted for destruction by homophobia, sexism, racism, is quoted as saying, “I’m doing my work, are you doing yours?”

    Woody, you are doing your work and that is a beautiful, important and vital thing in this world! Thank you for writing and for your sustained efforts to move things forward.


    With gratitude and admiration,

  13. Michael Ray says

    Woody, I’m filled with gratitude by your prose in Aha! In this Call to Farms, I want to deepen the conversation to include the kitchen garden, community garden, school garden and the impact on heat that is already making outdoor life more dangerous for both plants and the people who grow them. How many gardens are abandoned to the heat, where the efforts to nurture plants, worms and microbial life are burned away, along with the water, lost to the sky. This is another level of the challenge, one that my passion leads, to pursue methods to passively lower temperatures 8-10 degrees. The outcome is to “over summer” my desert adapted tomatoes so they can set fruit when night time temperatures below 80˚ will allow it. Thanks again for nurturing this conversation.

  14. Paul Dolan says

    My takeaway

    We are small , started by a few , run by a few , loved by many. We are passionate , proud and content to grow make and produce wine for ourselves family friends and those who have chose to be part of something we call special. We have a commitment to organic grape growing, health of the land , our animals and our selves. We believe it makes for great wine that truly expresses this place and we we believe it is the right thing to do.

  15. Aliyah Keuthan says

    Thank you for this poetic, realistic, engaging, epic saga, an inspiring call to farms, to soil, to organic-non-toxic diversely aware humanistic, envirophilic action. I was beginning to feel isolated and bogged down in my red state, a state deeply entrenched in big ag and McWorld values, wary of 5-star pretentiousness, but ever admiring of 5-star competition and top down asymmetrical growth. I struggled here for years to find an approach to present sustainability as a lifestyle and economic practice, and found the local, grassroots, soil-loving farmfolk to be grossly underrepresented in political and social circles that affect the decisions that could make their lives a tiny bit easier, a wee bit more appreciated. A few of us cherish and support organic farmers, but getting the word spread as to the reasons why that is important takes ingenuity, time, and a regular paycheck to keep going. I’ve dedicated 8 years to this process, without much moral support for doing so, and it is still the most rewarding non- paying job I’ve done. Your blog has recharged by energy to keep my hand to the spade in my own backyard, and to keep spreading the word to any who might listen.

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