John Linstrom speaks about The Holy Earth
Book Talk to Celebrate Centennial Year of Local Author’s Masterpiece
Editor John Linstrom on Liberty Hyde Bailey’s The Holy Earth
On July 23 at 1:00, John Linstrom will lead a book talk and conversation about one of the most influential books by environmental author and “South Haven’s Favorite Son,” Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954), at Black River Books in South Haven (330 Kalamazoo St.). Linstrom edited the recent centennial edition of the book, which was released in November 2015 and features a new foreword by renowned agrarian author Wendell Berry.
Over the past year, Linstrom has participated in academic panels as well as informal book talks at venues in several states, ranging from Cornell University to South Haven’s own Bailey Museum, in order to mark this special anniversary year. Liberty Hyde Bailey was born in South Haven when it was still a tiny frontier village, and he grew up on what would become one of the region’s premier fruit farms of the nineteenth century. His experiences in the woods and fields in southwest Michigan would help shape the influential environmental vision that he articulated in The Holy Earth, and his curiosity and love for the farm and garden led him to the eventual position of “Father of Modern Horticulture” and founder of “New Agrarian” philosophy. A prolific author, Bailey wrote 65 books and edited 140 more over the course of his 96-year life.
In The Holy Earth, Bailey argues that the very earth should be understood as divine due to the fact that it is “beyond us,” surpassing in its intricate mysteries all human understanding and imagination. And if we accept the holiness of the earth, Bailey argues, we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of that earth, which requires us to take “a new hold” in our lives. His application of Judeo-Christian ethical imperative to environmental discourse in the book ultimately influenced many key environmental thinkers of the past century, including the likes of Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, and Wes Jackson.
The event will begin at 1:00 with informal conversation. At 1:30, Linstrom will speak about the interesting detective work he did during the editorial process in the research archives of Cornell and Princeton, and he will also share some of Bailey’s fascinating life story and how it led Bailey to write such an important and unique work—a book that manages to be simultaneously expansive and compact, growing from tradition and challenging dogma, and still as challenging and relevant as it was 100 years ago. There will also be time afterward for questions and the opportunity to purchase copies of the book.
For further information on this or future events, please contact Black River Books at (269) 637-7374