By Leah Bayens
March Featured Essay
Editor’s note: this is part two of Leah’s two-part series on the Berry Farming and Ecological Agrarianism Program at St. Catharine College in Kentucky. Part one, “A Way of Thought Based on Land,” introduced readers to Wendell Berry’s vision and an affection-based curriculum. PBS has also recently featured Wendell Berry and the program; watch the PBS video here.
I am aware of the potential damage of institutionalizing “land affection”—or institutionalizing anything, for that matter. Berry, after all, has long censured the “fierce and protective orthodoxy” of scientific, agricultural, political, economic, and religious institutions that reinforce the status quo. He writes that our “history forbids us to be surprised that an orthodoxy of thought should become narrow, rigid, mercenary, morally corrupt, and vengeful against dissenters.” So why would we be interested in institutionalizing agrarian thought within a college run by Catholic sisters?