Wendell Berry’s family has farmed in Kentucky’s Henry County for at least five generations. In 1965, Berry purchased a farm in Lane's Landing, Kentucky, near his parents’ birthplaces. Berry has farmed, resided, and written at Lane's Landing up to the present day.

For decades, Berry, as a poet, essayist, fiction writer, and farmer, has advocated personal activism on behalf of the environment. What Berry believes is reflected in how he conducts his life. He has been an activist in numerous areas of society.

At the 1968 University of Kentucky conference on the War and the Draft, in A Statement Against the War in Vietnam Berry stated: “I have come to the realization that I can no longer imagine a war that I would believe to be either useful or necessary. I would be against any war.” And in his essay, the Failure of War (1999) he wrote, ”How many deaths of other people’s children are we willing to accept in order that we may be free, affluent and (supposedly) at peace? To that question I answer: None . . . Don’t kill any children for my benefit.”

In 1979, he participated in non-violent civil disobedience against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Marble Hill, Indiana.

In 2009, Berry, along with Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute and Fred Kirschenmann of The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture gathered in Washington D.C. to promote the idea of a 50-Year Farm Bill claiming that "We need a 50-year farm bill that addresses forthrightly the problems of soil loss and degradation, toxic pollution, fossil-fuel dependency and the destruction of rural communities."

Opposing the use of coal as an energy source, in 2009 Berry joined over 2,000 others in non-violently blocking the gates to a coal-fired power plant in Washington, D.C., and later that year combined with several non-profit organizations and rural electric co-op members to petition against and protest the construction of a coal-burning power plant in Clark County, Kentucky. As a result, in 2011 the Kentucky Public Service Commission approved the cancellation of this power plant.

Berry, with 14 other protesters, spent the weekend of February 12, 2011 locked in the Kentucky governor’s office demanding an end to mountaintop removal coal mining.

Through whatever he is writing, Berry’s message is constant: humans must learn to live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth or perish. In his opinion, we must acknowledge the impact of agriculture on our society. Berry believes that small-scale farming is essential to healthy local economies, and that strong local economies are essential to the survival of the species and the well-being of the planet.

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