Guest Posts

Gene Logsdon 1931 – 2016…

 

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From Filmers to Farmers

Yes, I’ve read the headlines, and once again – although perhaps a bit more so than previous iterations – the previous year (2016) was one for fawning over many-a-departed pop stars. David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, and many others. Pop stars aren’t really my thing, but if that stuff floats your dinghy, well, all the best with that. In the meantime, 2016 was also the year that several luminaries with a more agrarian bent also bade their farewell, beginning with the co-founder of Permaculture, Bill Mollison. Just a couple of weeks ago one of Permaculture’s most respected and more recent practitioners and teachers, Toby Hemenway, also made an all-too-early departure. But along with these, 2016 also saw us lose an agrarian outside the world of Permaculture, that somebody being the aptly named Contrary Farmer, Gene Logsdon.

I’ll admit that I’m nowhere near as familiar with Logsdon’s writing as I am with others of the American Agrarian Crew (as I call them) – Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Gary Paul Nabhan, etc. – or what Logsdon referred to as “the five musketeers, a quintet of somewhat radical thinkers and doers coming together in opposition to the steady consolidation of farming into an international mega-agribusiness monopoly” – Berry, Jackson, Maurice Telleen, David Kline, and himself. Having gone through a heavy and prolonged dose of the aforementioned and other agrarian authors a few years ago, I’d somewhat overdosed on said writing and had to take a break from it all, just as I was getting to Logsdon. I did however read just enough – to go along with a bit of a recent nudge – that I’ve been able to realize that Logsdon left us all with a rich treasure trove of writing to discover.

The first of Logsdon’s writings that I (unsurprisingly?) read – and thoroughly enjoyed – was his book Good Spirits: A New Look at Ol’ Demon Alcohol, but it was then with (misplaced) disappointment that I soon thereafter discovered his book Gene Logsdon’s Practical Skills: A Revival of Forgotten Crafts, Techniques and Traditionsin a thrift shop. “Seriously?”, I asked myself. “Did Logsdon actually write one of those hokey ‘101 Ingenious Ways to Using Baking Soda’ type books?” I of course bought it anyways (I probably paid $2.50 for it), and after languishing on my book shelf for a couple of years I one day found myself with nothing to read and so pulled it out.

“Dear Gene and Carol”…Friends and Family Honor The Logsdons


g2Gene’s First Article
Transcibed at the end of this post…

 Solicited and Compiled by Beth and Ed Greenwood

Me and Gene have had conversations about his strain of corn that has long ears. I got a collection of old farm journals and one which Gene said touched him was his first article he sold to Farm Journal beginning his career. I finally got to meet Gene at a small farm conference close to Indianapolis in. Though I missed his writers class he taught at in Greenfield, In. While I was a great fan of Louis Bromfield and visited his Malabar farm twice and even named my farm in reference to one of his stories, Gene’s people and stories were and are real unless he says otherwise. That made Gene’s writing even more valuable to me as a farmer both in my younger days farming and working for farmers, and now as a 54 year old trying to get started again on my small farm in failing health both trying to help my folks and take care of them and get my small farm going starting almost from scratch. Gene’s writing has given me a direction and a sense of knowing that the way I want to go on my farm is really my way and not something I read in some farm magazine that was pushing someone’s dream of agriculture that made everybody but me rich! Not that I am a money grubber. Gene’s articles have kept me on track through the years and have been my college education that no college could give me.

On Being a Worthy Heir of the Agrarian Contrarians…


From JASON PETERS
Front Porch Republic

There arrived in yesterday’s mail an attractive book, new from Chelsea Green, titled A Sanctuary of Trees. A hand-written note from the director of communications, addressed to me, said “Gene asked me to send you a copy of his latest book.”

“Gene” is Gene Logsdon, a name well-known, I expect, to many denizens of the Front Porch. Gene belongs to that fraternity of older agrarian contrarians that includes, among others, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, David Kline, and the late Maury Telleen.

Gene Logsdon: the Contrary Farmer. His many books include The Contrary Farmer, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, Homesteading: How to Find New Independence on the Land, The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse (reviewed here by yours truly), You Can Go Home Again, and three works of fiction: The Lords of Folly, The Last of the Husbandmen, and Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food, which I hear great things about but haven’t read yet.

I had just enough time between mind-numbing meetings yesterday afternoon to leaf through A Sanctuary of Trees. The early pages have a good bit to say about Logsdon’s early mis-education: a preparatory school for boys who were seminary-bound