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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.


Wow. This SuperBowl commercial is a testament to the power of religious language, Paul Harvey, and the dream of America presented through rural imagery:

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk, . Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”


Lammas and Lughnasadh: Festivals of Harvest and Fire

by Susan Leem, associate producer

Harvesting the wheat fieldHarvesting the wheat fields. (photo: tpmartins/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Lammas is celebrated by Christians and many modern Pagans (Lughnasadh) today, August 1st.

During medieval times, Christians observed this day as a feast day of St. Peter in Chains. The Anglos-Saxons called it hlaefmass, or “loafmass” in which medieval Christians baked bread from the first wheat grains harvested and placed loaves on the church altar as an offering. The festival, rooted in Celtic origins, marks the beginning of the harvest season and the middle of summer — the midway point between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Lammas is a time of thanksgiving for the ability to reap a successful grain harvest.

Celts held the fire festival Lughnasadh at this time to honor the Irish god Lugh, who is associated with late summer storms. And this is also called the season of John Barleycorn, the personification of the barley crop.


Speak with Farmers
Chris Heagle, producer

Joel Salatin, the farmer featured in this clip (jump to the 4:20 mark) from the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. and owner of Polyface Farms, has found a way to be profitable while staying true to his family’s ideal that nature’s design is still the best pattern for the biological world. After hearing Ellen Davis speak so eloquently about stewardship of land, I couldn’t help but think of his words and Professor Davis’ advice on getting informed about how our food is produced:

Ms. Tippett: So apparently my senior editor, Trent, is Tweeting this conversation we’re having, and he has had a question come in from a student of yours who loves you …So it is how do city dwellers, urbanites, relate to an agrarian mindset without romanticizing it?

Prof. Davis: I think the best way to do that is to listen to farmers and to meet farmers. As we’ve been talking about, that’s easy to do now because there probably isn’t an urban area —

Ms. Tippett: Right. They’re in your city. Right.

Prof. Davis: Yeah, exactly. They’re in our city. So talk to them and find out what they’re doing, what their hopes are, and also what their struggles are. And I don’t know any farmer who isn’t struggling.

And it doesn’t matter what model of farming they’re using. If they’re using small farming, trying to get off the grid, or if they are involved in industrial farming, I don’t know any of them who are not struggling and to some degree suffering. So I think that’s the most important thing that we can do in order not to romanticize it. I’d also suggest that you can read some of what is happening in new modes of agricultural research.

Because some people think that when I or others are talking about agrarianism, we’re sort of talking about going back a hundred years, if not 2,000 years. But it’s not an exercise in nostalgia.

I look back at the fork in my road and often wonder if I should have, could have, taken the vocational, farming route. But, at the time, nobody valued that route. Everyone valued ‘education.’

— Michael Sanchez, a chemical engineer living in upstate New York who grew up on a farm in east Texas, in his lovely reflection on "The Meaning of Intelligence."

Trent Gilliss, online editor