Hello Joel and everyone,
I second your endorsement of the new book of Leopold's essays! It is my
understanding that many of these essays were originally published in the
Wisconsin Agriculturist magazine (you can read the originals at
UW-Madison's Steenbock Agricultural Library).
Leopold foresaw many of the problems agriculture is dealing with today.
One of the biggest problems that agricultural industrialization has caused
is it has made it possible for many who work the land to (if they choose
to) effectively avoid gaining that intimate knowledge of their particular
piece of land and developing the respect for it that is the foundation of
good stewardship. One's relationship with land is similar to human
relations--if we know it only superficially, it is easier to treat it
harshly. I think that Leopold viewed farming as ideally a long term
relationship between the farmer and the land. Within certain economic
constraints, it is always in the farmer's and the farm's best interest to
At 08:26 PM 5/6/2000 -0700, you wrote:
>Hello to all...
>I am enjoying reading a new collection of essays by Aldo Leopold. The
>collection is titled "For the Health of the Land" and many of the essays
>are previously unpublished. The collection was published by Island Press in
>An essay that is particularly interesting is titled "The Farmer as a
>Conservationist" and was originally published in American Forests magazine
>Ponder this section...
>"In a surprising number of men their burns a curiosity about machines
>and loving care in their construction, maintenance and use. This bent for
>mechanism, even though clothed in overalls, is often the pure fire of
>intellect. It is the earmark of our times.
> Everyone knows this, but what few realize is that an equal bent for the
>mechanisms of nature is a possible earmark of some future generation.
> No one dreamed 100 years ago that metal, air, petroleum and electricity
>could coordinate as an engine. Few realize that soil, water, plants and
>animals are an engine subject like any other, to derangement. Our present
>skill in the care of mechanical engines did not arise from fear lest they
>fail to do their work. Rather it was born of curiosity and pride of
>understanding. Prudence never kindled a fire in the human mind; I have no
>hope for conservation born of fear... (snip) This necessity for skill, for
>a lively and vital curiosity about the workings of the biological engine,
>can teach us something about the probable success of farm conservation
>Over the years we have had various posts on SANET that have stated that
>farmers choose to be or not to be good stewards of the land based on harsh
>While acknowledging that economically viable farmers must operate within
>the constraints of the market... it is clear to me that a focus on
>economics alone without a "lively and vital curiosity about the workings of
>the biological engine " will never add up to the ecologically based
>innovation of farmers like Steve Groff and many others...
>I think you will all enjoy the "The Farmer as a Conservationist" ...
>Elsah, Illinois 62028
>(618) 374 - 5289
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