The Holy Earth

Centennial Edition of The Holy Earth by Liberty Hyde Bailey — New introduction by Wendell Berry, edited by John Linstrom

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"The years pass and they turn into centuries. We see more clearly. We are to take a new hold." -Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Holy Earth

The agrarian tradition runs as an undercurrent through the entire history of literature, carrying the age-old wisdom that the necessary access of independent farmers to their own land both requires the responsibility of good stewardship and provides the foundation for a thriving civilization.

The Holy Earth - cover artAt the turn of the last century, when farming first began to face the most rapid and extensive series of changes that industrialization would bring, the most compelling and humane voice representing the agrarian tradition came from the botanist, farmer, philosopher, and public intellectual Liberty Hyde Bailey. In 1915, Bailey's environmental manifesto, The Holy Earth, addressed the industrialization of society by utilizing the full range of human vocabulary to assert that the earth's processes and products, because they form the governing conditions of human life, should therefore be understood not first as economic, but as divine. To grasp the extent of human responsibility for the earth, Bailey called for "a new hold" that society must take to develop a "morals of land management," which would later inspire Aldo Leopold's "land ethic" and several generations of agrarian voices. This message of responsible land stewardship has never been as timely as now.

For the first time since Bailey’s death, Counterpoint Press presents the restored and authoritative text, including the author’s 1943 retrospect, and new annotations by project editor John Linstrom to introduce this extraordinary book to a new generation of readers. Published in cooperation with the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum, this special centennial edition of Bailey’s masterwork will feature an appreciation of the book by Wendell Berry, whose own acclaimed work has long been indebted to Bailey’s writing.

Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858–1954), born on a humble frontier farm in southwest Michigan, went on to become the “Father of Modern Horticulture,” a leading public intellectual on the question of rural communities, a major popularizer of the "nature-study" movement in primary education, and a national spokesperson for agricultural policy.

Essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry has written more than sixty books. One of the major voices for agrarianism today, he lives and works in his native Kentucky with his wife, Tanya Berry, and their children and grandchildren.

John Linstrom is a writer, editor, and doctoral student in English at New York University.

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