posted on by Jackie Bebenroth

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

This is one of Ben’s favorite poems, written by Wendell Berry, who was considered by many to be the father of the farmers’ market. According to our American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau anthology, “You cannot read his words without wishing in some corner of your heart to be a small farmer in a working community – I’ve often found framed copies of the Mad Farmer poems on the walls of people who have returned to the land, taken up the challenge of fitting into place.”

Chef Ben Bebenroth: Fledgling Mad Farmer

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,

vacation with pay. Want more

of everything ready made. Be afraid

to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.

Not even your future will be a mystery

any more. Your mind will be punched in a card

and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something,

they will call you. When they want you

to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute. Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace

the flag. Hope to live in that free

republic for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot

understand. Praise ignorance, for what man

has not encountered he has not destoyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.

Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested

when they have rotted into the mold.

Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus

that will build under the trees

every thousand years.

Listen to carrion – put your ear

close, and hear the faint chattering

of the songs that are to come.

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful

though you have considered all the facts.

So long as women do not go cheap

for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy

a woman satisfied to bear a child?

Will this disturb the sleeep

of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.

Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head

in her lap. Swear allegiance

to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos

can predict the motions of your mind,

lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way

you didn’t go. Be like the fox

who makes more tracks than necessary,

some in the wrong directions.

Practice resurrection.

The Country of Marriage (1973)

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One Response to Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

  1. Well it seems like my path has already been made. If this was written in 1973, the writer must have had some young upstart in the ghetto in mind to read it 30+ years later. 

    I am thankful for all the rules that I have broken. Thankful for all the friends I have made, both farmer, chef and activist. Thankful for my fathers smile and my mothers compassion. I am most thankful for fox wisdom and sparrow insight.

    Truth comes late to some and the path is not always given. These words in the above statement ring solid for most of those I call friends. 

    My shared truth for those that read my words is this ….. Begin new everyday because in the end, it’s only food.