Guest Posts

“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…

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

Chiara Dowell: The farm teaches virtue through the means of necessity

Little Flower Farm

[A comment, from the ongoing conversations of our readers, that deserves its own post… as many of our reader’s comments do… DS]

I think you might be surprised… if there were a new homestead act, or a breaking up of these mega farms, how many people would step up to the plate and seize the opportunity to scratch their living from the dirt. If land was opened up significantly, all those dreamers out there can move out of their conventional jobs, and all those “lazy unemployed” whose vision is often narrowed simply because of the stresses and strains of real need, can slide into the vacant positions. I don’t call those conventional jobs the end game, but in the meantime, it’s a temporary solution.

All this said, you don’t need to own land to farm: you can rent. You just need to start to throw all your weight (sometimes literally) into the effort…

Why I Don’t Farm Yet: John Depew

Lost John

The cabin is built intelligently, bermed halfway up the first floor on three sides, and wood heated. We cut our own wood in the state park, and I have no intention of ever heating any other way, just as I have no interest in living in any town or city, whatever size.

The reason why I do not yet farm is simple: Land. The price of land here has doubled in the last ten years, which I suppose is about the average across the nation. Farmland in this great Jeffersonian grid currently sells for around $2000/acre, which is great compared to almost anywhere else in the country, until you realize that essentially the smallest parcel you are likely to find for sale is 80 acres. Usually 160, a quarter section. The moment you are able to shoot or photograph a large whitetail buck on said land, count on the price going to $3000, since the rich non-resident hunters are eager to buy good wooded land and let it grow up into a huge brush heap so that they can be sure to shoot a deer the one weekend a year they’re in the county. For that matter, a pretty good chunk of the farmland in the county is owned by non-residents too,

Why I Homestead: Jenn Campus


Since I was small, I have always loved animals with horns and hooves, mainly goats and sheep, but also as I have gotten older, members of the cervidae family, like elk, reindeer and whitetails, all ruminants similar to their domesticated cousins. If there is a family of animals that I feel a kind of kinship and draw to, it would be ruminants. Yes, I love my dogs – they are pretty much kids to me, but the ruminants have always held deep fascination for me. Goats for example are the second domesticated animal after dogs, so the human race has a long history with them, as well as the cervidaes who have nourished and clothed humans for centuries. It is stored in our blood and DNA, and theirs too.

My whole life, I have loved working farms and petting zoos – where I could go and watch, get close to and touch domesticated livestock animals, always dreaming that one day I might have my own flock of sheep or mixed herd of sheep and goats

Why I Farm: John Finlayson

Peanut and I

New Zealand

At over 60 years of age I have been farming in Northern New Zealand all of my life; dairying, sheep, beef cattle, goats, organic orcharding and vegetable growing and obviously a few hens, ducks, etc; initially on a commercial basis on the family farm of 1,400 acres but then reality set in and I have now downsized to a more manageable 50 acres which suits me just fine. We live a reasonably sustainable lifestyle; not connected to the grid, grow or produce/make most of what we need and if we do require something from an external source then we will plan ahead and purchase it.

Why I Farm: Chiara Dowell

Little Flower Farm CSA

Sometimes when I’m covered in mud, smell like a mixture of whey and pig manure, can’t close my blistered fingers, and am too exhausted to fix anything but a bowl of snap peas for dinner I wonder why I’m farming.

But upon reflection, I realize I farm because it means I get covered in mud, smell like whey and pig doo, can’t close my aching hands for all the blisters and get to feast on fresh peas from the garden.

I grew up in the middle of the city in a townhouse on a street with a clump of 3 pine trees down the road… which I was afraid to go near for fear I’d get lost in the woods. The leap to farming was just that… a mad wild leap. One I never would have had the courage to make had I not given birth to my first daughter. We watched her grow, and desired a life we could live with her. And with eachother.

So now I get to be five everyday. Sometimes that means

Why I Farm: Beth Greenwood


Well, first, I don’t know if what I do is really farming. Out here in the west it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re raising crops, raising livestock or raising both; the tendency is to call it a ranch. There are almond ranches, prune ranches, cattle ranches, hay ranches… But on our place we have horses and pigs and cattle (milk and beef), chickens and sheep. We have orchards and ponds and fenced pastures; we cut out own wood and try to raise as much food as we can. So whatever you call us, our activities include a lot of things traditionally called farming, as well as some things that aren’t, such as the firewood business and the custom wood milling business and the free-lance writing and the blog.

As to the why: my husband grew up on an Idaho ranch, I grew up in town but was horse crazy by the time I was five. My parents were doctors who eventually bought a ranch to have a place for the horses and because it was a good investment. I only got to live there for about two years, as I got married and moved back to town. I hated it. I missed the space, the green, the wild animals.

Why I Farm: Betty Taylor

Me and bee gum

Persimmon Ridge Honey Farm

I farm because I like good food—pure food, real food. So I have a little “homestead” in Middle Tennessee on which I raise vegetables, eggs, and chicken for myself. It is also a small honey farm that brings in a little extra income. (I still have a real job.)

My honey is delicious and my bees are awesome. I don’t add any chemicals to their hives to manage mites or other diseases. I don’t feed them sugar or high fructose corn syrup to “stimulate” them. I say if you can’t feed yourselves or fight off the mites on your own, you’re too weak to survive and so be it. Result? Strong bees and good honey. My customers are very happy with my honey!

My honey business may provide extra income in my dotage, but I do it because I love it. When you are an old woman and wear two sets of clothes on a 90+ degree day to go out and lift heavy supers filled with honey, it has to be a labor of love. And it is, I never feel so connected to the universe and so happy as I do in the beeyard.

Holy Food — A sermon based on Gene Logsdon’s book ‘Pope Mary & The Church of Almighty Good Food’

Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, IL

I’ve grown fond of a blog, “The Contrary Farmer,” written by an Ohio “cottage farmer” named Gene Logsdon. He farms in the Upper Sandusky region south of Toledo. He’s 79 years old and advocates

  • small farms, though economically as a half time venture, with another job to supplement income;
  • organic methods, yet he will use herbicide in limited quantities in difficult areas;
  • and a host of compelling, alternative ways of raising crops and animals.

His attitudes are a complex cluster: idealistic, visionary, practical, critical, and appreciative.

Recently he’s become a voice for manure, including human waste, rather than chemical fertilizer. The title of his book about this, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, reflects his persona as a down to earth, a little irreverent, and avuncular soul, who respects the old ways but looks to a sustainable future.

He was raised on a family farm not far from