“In the end I did not find at all what I was seeking on that snowy night; I found something much better… a whole new life, and a useful life and one in which I have been able to make a contribution which may not be forgotten overnight and with the first funeral wreath, like most of the writing of our day, but one which will go on and on.”
– Louis Bromfield, From My Experience
Louis Bromfield was a Pulitzer-prize winning author, but what he wanted to be remembered for was his contribution to agriculture.
“Perhaps it will turn out that I have left behind some contribution not only to the science of agriculture, which is the only profession in the world which encompasses all sciences and all the laws of the universe, but to the realm of human philosophy as well.
“None of this could I have done within the shallow world of a writing living as most writers live,” Bromfield observed.
Boyhood world. When Bromfield left behind his cosmopolitan world to return to Richland County, Ohio, he did so with high ideals and big dreams of returning to his boyhood world. He learned that this was not to be so easy.
“Somehow the picture I saw of the future was one in which vaguely there were blended the carefree happiness of my boyhood and the life in a great house in the countryside of England, which, in the great days, was perhaps the best and most civilized life man has ever known.
“If in the dream there was any other element it was that of security; I wanted a place which, again vaguely, would be like the medieval fortress-manor of France where a whole community once found security and self-sufficiency.
“In a troubled world, I wanted a place which, if necessary, could withstand a siege and where, if necessary, one could get out the rifle and shotgun for defense.”
No other way. Though his fortune and circumstance gave him a Hollywood lifestyle, some of his books being made into movies, Bromfield said that he was “born of farming and land-owning people,” and couldn’t imagine it any other way.
He enjoyed talking with other farmers, who he said, “each day create and add a little more to the world in which they live, who each season see their valley grow richer and more beautiful.”
He appreciated the fact that together they shared a respect for the wildlife coming down to the ponds in the evening, “and the mystery and magnificence of a prize-winning potato or stalk or celery, who recognize alike the beauty of a field with a rich crop in which there are no ‘poor spots’ and the beauty of a fine sow and her litter.”
‘New’ ideas. Bromfield began preaching “soil building” and irrigation of pastures, no-till farming and natural fertilizer to a group of people who sometimes listened with interest, other times with a chuckle at the city boy who had come home with such big ideas.
He urged people to keep ponds and streams as pristine as possible so that fish could be caught and consumed without worry of polluted waters.
He was a man ahead of his time and yet so remarkably on-target with his concerns it is almost uncanny.
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