Sunday, December 12, 2010

Outlook to Winter

    Most of us, I fear, look upon winter with some feeling of dread and apprehension. It is to be endured. This feeling is partly due to the immense change that comes with the approach of winter. The trees are bare. The leaves are drifting into the fence-rows. The birds have flown. The deserted country roads stretch away into leaden skies. The lines of the landscape become hard and sharp. Gusty winds scurry over the fields. It is the turn of the year.
    To many persons, however, the dread of winter, or the lack of enjoyment in it, is a questions of weather. We speak of bad weather, as if weather ever could be bad. Weather is not a human institution, and is not to be measured by human standards. There is strength and mighty uplift in the roaring winds that go roistering over the winter hills. The cold and the storm are part of winter, as the warmth and the soft rain are a part of summer. Persons who find happiness in the out-of-doors only in what we call pleasant weather, do not really love nature.
     We speak of winter as bare, but this is only a contrast with summer. In summer all things are familiar and close; the depths are covered. The view is restricted. We see things near by. In the winter things are uncovered. Old objects have new forms. There are new curves in the roadway through the forest. There are steeper undulations in the footpath. Even when the snow lies deep on the earth the ground-line carries the eye into strange distances. You look far down into the heart of the woods. You feel the strength and resoluteness of the framework of the trees. You see the corners and angles of the rocks. You discover the trail that was lost in summer. You look clear through the weedy tangle. You find new knotholes in the tree trunks. You penetrate to the very depths. You analyze, and gain insight.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Bailey Farmstead...the Most Important Fact in Agriculture

    Leafing through a copy of L.H. Bailey’s most autobiographical book, The Harvest, I came across a passage on the importance of the home, specifically the home as a farmstead. Bailey wrote that the farmstead, “…is the greatest and most important fact in agriculture…The good single-family farm in the real open country (not in the environs of cities and towns) is one of our greatest social assets…Any estimate of agriculture that misses this situation is defective and of little avail...” I have no doubt Bailey pictured his childhood home in South Haven with its colonnade arches and tracks of orchards.  What are we to make of this bold statement, that Bailey saw the home as the “most important fact in agriculture?” I would have thought that the crops, livestock, commercial output and technical ingenuity would be the important facts in agriculture. Not so for Bailey. It is the home. Happily for us, through the interventions of past generations, the iconic image of the Bailey farmstead/home in South Haven still stands, its longevity supported by its historical significance attachment to Bailey.
    Reflecting on his essay I realized the farmstead/home in South Haven preserves immediately at least two values for us. First, is its historical value. This 19th century Greek Revival home is an important physical artifact of Michigan’s agricultural settlement that, as historian Kenneth E. Lewis unabashedly puts it, shaped the destiny of the lower south Michigan region. Secondly is the value that Bailey points out, the farmstead as the symbol of naturalness and rightness in the place of things. As Bailey puts it in the same essay, “[The home] outweighs the quantities of things, the turnovers and the activities of the produce market. The home is still part of the farm, rearing new generations in the very midst of the realities of life, without make-believe, stage-play, patronage, advertising, go-betweens, or superfluities. It is a twelve month institution, seemingly as native and unremovable as land and trees and ceaseless brooks.”
    I never experienced a farmstead life. My childhood was nestled in the concrete of suburban Detroit bereft of any natural process besides the ritual of public school and Sunday mass. However, my monthly visits to the Bailey homestead awaken some dormant aspect that is connected with the land and its long history, where the dictates of modern life are only a small passing drama. The value of naturalness comes through. As a historian, I am happy to see that the Bailey home still stands. As an individual, however, I am more keenly aware of this deeper value that Bailey realized of this home, sown from the seeds of his youth. It is a good thing to know both.          

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November: June

    The frost is here again. It has blasted the tomato vines and beans; the cucumber shoots are limp with blackened withered leaves; the stately rows of sugar corn rustle dryly in the wind; the last cosmos and dahlia are gone, and the proud bushes that bore the flaring blooms are broken and dead; the China asters and the marigold are in ruins.
   So has the garden gone; the hopes of June with the achievements of August and September are passed again into the burdened years. A tinge of sadness is in the crisp autumn air, the low sun is only mildly warm at noon, and twilight creeps on before the day's work is done. Here is the wreck of the year; all the energies that burst in April are spent, the leaves loose their hold in a million appointed places and fall aimlessly into unassorted heaps. One would think that defeat and death are everywhere. The deadness of the winter night is even yet marching on the landscape. It is accounted a sad and ineffective ending for the brilliantly promises of May.

Monday, September 20, 2010


My last winter apple I ate today.
Shapely and stout in their modelled skins
Securely packed in my cellar bins
Two dozen good kinds of apple-spheres lay.

And today I went to my orchard trees
And picked me the first-ripe yellow fruits
That hung far out on the swinging shoots
In summer suns and the wonder-day breeze.

And thereby it was that the two years met
Deep in the heart of the ripe July
When the wheat was shocked and streams were dry; 
And weather of winter stayed with me yet.

For I planted these orchard trees myself
On hillside slopes that belong to me
Where visions are wide and winds are free
That all the round year might come to my shelf.

And there on my shelves the white winter through 
Pippin and Newtown, Rambo and Spy,
Greening and Swaar and Spitzenburg lie
With memories tense of sun and the dew.

They bring the great fields and the fence-rows here,
The ground-bird's nest and the cow-bell's stroke
The tent-worm's web and the night-fire's smoke
And smell of the smartweed through all the year.

They bring me the days when the ground was turned, 
When the trees were pruned and tilled and sprayed, 
When the sprouts were cut and grafts were made, 
When fields were cleaned and the brush-wood piles burned.

And then the full days of the ripe months call
For Jefferis, Dyer and Early Joe
Chenango, Mother, Sweet Bough and Snow
That hold the pith of high summer and fall.

All a-sprightly and tart the crisp flesh breaks
And the juices run cordial and fine
Where the odors and acids combine
And lie in the cells till essence awakes.

I taste of the wilds and the blowing rain
And I taste of the frost and the skies;
Condensed they lie in the apple guise
And then escape and restore me again.

So every day all the old years end
And so every day they begin;
So every day the winds come in
And so every day the twelve-months blend.

L.H. Bailey, Wind & Weather
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Do We Need So Many Apples?

    About thirty years ago (1892) I compiled an inventory of all the varieties of apple-trees sold in North America, as listed in the ninety-five nurserymen's catalogues that came to my hand. The inventory contains 878 varieties. In the present year, however, perhaps not more than 100 varieties are handled by nurserymen in Eastern United States. Probably the dealer and grower would consider even this small number much too great. The highly developed standardized business of the present day, aiming at quantity-production, naturally reduces the variety of products, whether in manufacturing or horticulture, and aims at uniformity. Under the influence of this leadership, we are losing many of the old products, varieties of apples among the rest.
     Why do we need so many kinds of apples? Because there are so many folks. A person has a right to gratify his legitimate tastes. If he wants twenty or forty kinds of apples for his personal use, running from Early Harvest to Roxbury Russet, he should be accorded the privilege. Some place should be provided where he may obtain trees or scions. There is merit in variety itself. It provides more points of contact with life, and leads away from uniformity and monotony.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Being One with a Tree

Man listens in the forest. He pauses in the forest. He finds himself. He loses himself in the town and even perhaps in the university. He may lose himself in business and in great affairs; but in the forest he is one with a tree, he stands by himself and yet has consolation, and he comes back to his own place in the scheme of things. - L.H. Bailey, The Holy Earth

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Peach is Sunshine

This peach is sunshine. It is night, the twilight, and the dawn. It is dew and rain. It is noon, and wind, and weather. It is heat and cold. It is the sequence of the seasons, winter and spring, summer and autumn, and winter again, all of which have gone into the tree that gave it birth...and in the years to come, when you and I shall not be here to see, it or its progeny will bear peaches still! — L.H. Bailey, Peach, from The Harvest

Friday, August 06, 2010

Improvsational Farmer Stand-Up More Than Just a Routine

Local southwest Michigan farmers Julie Cowley and Will Hart love what they do; plant food, grow food, provide food for their immediate community all within a half hour drive from their farm in Casco township where 2010's growing season is sprouting cabbages, lettuces, spinach, melons, celery, zucchini, scallions, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, sunflowers, zinnias, radicchio, leeks, and even blue popcorn. Their story of launching their first farm, Improvisational Farmer, was shared at the last 2010 Brown Bag series in the Bailey woodshed. Will spoke in how he rediscovered the longer cycle of the land that goes beyond the one year mindset. Julie shared the challenges of operating a private farm. Those challenges are paying off with a public more aware of their food. Even Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm recently spoke to the value of locally grown food, “Local food is fresher, tastes better and comes from farmland near you,” Granholm said.  “And because many fruits and vegetables can lose up to 50 percent of their nutrients in just five days’ time, buying locally grown food is a healthier choice.” Julie and Will also offer Fresh-Prep food kits, ready for the grill. The farm is part of the Lakeshore Harvest Country which is sponsoring an upcoming local food dinner on August 22nd (see Lakeshore link for more info). Farm hats off to Will and Julie. Keep growing and we'll keep eating and growing.

CONTACT INFO THE IMPROVISATIONAL FARMER: Email:, 1-866-254-4633, 269-639-1970, Farm location: 991 62nd Street, Pullman, MI   49450 (about 4 miles east of US 31/196 off Pullman Road, 109th Avenue), Mailing address: 876 1/2 Blue Star Highway, South Haven, MI  49090

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Earth is Divine

Verily, then, the earth is divine, because man did not make it. We are here, part in the creation. We cannot escape. We are under obligation to take part and to do our best, living with each other and with all the creatures. We may not know the full plan, but that does not alter the relation. When once we set ourselves to the pleasure of our dominion, reverently and hopefully, and assume all its responsibilities, we shall have a new hold on life. - L.H. Bailey, The Holy Earth

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Habit of Grumbling at the Weather

The habit of grumbling at the weather is the most senseless and futile of all expenditures of human effort. Day by day we complain and fret at the weather, and when we are done with it we have — the weather. The same amount of energy put into wholesome work would have set civilization far in advance of its present state. Weather is not a human institution, and therefore it cannot be "bad." I have seen bad men, have read bad books, have made bad lectures, have lived two years about Boston,— but I have never seen bad weather! — L.H. Bailey, Outlook to Nature

Monday, July 19, 2010

BROWN BAG BIOLOGY: What Would Bailey Plant?

Wed., July 21th, 12:30-1:30 PM
Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum

903 S. Bailey * South Haven, MI * (269)637-3251
Come to sit under the museum's historic Walnut Tree with your lunch for the free program that started it all! Topic: "What Would Bailey Plant?"

In 1862, a young Liberty Hyde Bailey witnessed his mother's passing from diphtheria in the very room he was born in only five years previously. Sara Bailey, left behind at the Bailey homestead, a collection of cottage of pinks, Dianthus, that she gardened. The young, grief stricken Bailey, continually kept-up the garden, marking a rite of initiation into the world of Horticulture and Botany. He writes in his book, The Garden Pinks, "From earliest boyhood the pinks have been my companions. Mounds and rings of Grass pinks were in the front yard, left there by my this late day the memory of them lingers." This is his list of his mother's extensive pinks: Dianthus Deltoides, D. graniticus, D. Alpestris, D. Arenarius, D. Petraeus, D. Caesius, D. Plumarius, D. Caryophyllus, D. Gallicus, D. Atrorubens, D. Croaticus, D. Cruentus, D. Barbatus, D. Laciniatus, D. Heddewigii.
Find out more at this program at the Bailey Museum!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum, 903 S. Bailey Avenue, South Haven, Michigan
Bring the family and taste the season's best! Locally grown blueberries from the southwest Michigan Fruit Belt adorn locally made Sherman's ice-cream. Being ecological never tasted so good! $5 suggested donation.
• Only 80 fat-free calories per cup, blueberries are a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C.
•Blueberries rank high in antioxidants that help protect against cancer, heart disease and other age-related diseases.
• Researchers have found compounds in blueberries that help prevent urinary tract infection.
• A single bush can produce as many as 6,000 blueberries a year.
• There are only three fruits native to North America: blueberries, cranberries and Concord grapes.
• Botanists estimate that blueberries have been around for more than 13,000 years.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Museum Becomes a Certified Wildlife Habitat™

Nature cannot be antagonistic to man, seeing that man is a product of nature. We should find vast joy in the fellowship, something like the joy of Pan. - L.H. Bailey, The Holy Earth

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum, a National Historic Site has it all for wildlife now: food, water, cover, place to raise their young and sustainable gardening. These are the criteria set out by the National Wildlife Federation. As they mention, "Whether you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, you can create a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas. By providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young--and by incorporating sustainable gardening practices--you not only help wildlife, but you also qualify to become an official Certified Wildlife Habitat™." Check it out at their webiste, Garden for Wildlife.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Need to Go to Nature

So long as the sun shines and the fields are green we shall need to go to nature for our inspiration and our respite; and our need is the greater with every increasing complexity of our lives. L.H. Bailey, The Nature-Study Idea

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Fresh Air Interview: Filmmaker Josh Fox - 'Living In The Middle Of A 'Gasland' : NPR

So bountiful hath been the earth and so securely have we drawn from it our substance, that we have taken it all for granted as if it were only a gift, and with little care or conscious thought of the consequences of our use of it; nor have we very much considered the essential relation that we bear to it as living parts in the vast creation. Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Holy Earth

    Josh Fox lives in the Upper Delaware River Basin, on the border straddling Pennsylvania and New York State. In May 2008, he received a letter from a natural gas mining company. The company wanted to lease 19.5 acres of land from Fox — and would pay him $100,000 to do so.
    "[They say] 'We might not even drill,' " he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. " 'We don't even know if there's gas here. It's going to be a fire hydrant in the middle of a field — very little impact to your land. You won't hardly know we're here.' "
    Instead of saying yes, Fox decided to travel around the country to see how the process of natural gas drilling affected other communities and homeowners. The result, his documentary Gasland, premieres on HBO on June 21. See more with the link above.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Seasonal Sundaes this Saturday

It's all local and good!
Ice Cream & Fruit Festival at
the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum,
903, Bailey Avenue, South Haven, MI 49090, A National Historic Site
Saturday, June 19th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM
South Haven's own Sherman's Ice Cream covered with locally grown Michigan strawberries$5 donation.

Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible

This book examines the theology and ethics of land use, especially the practices of modern industrialized agriculture, in light of critical biblical exegesis. Nine interrelated essays explore the biblical writers' pervasive concern for the care of arable land against the background of the geography, social structures, and religious thought of ancient Israel. This approach consistently brings out neglected aspects of texts, both poetry and prose, that are central to Jewish and Christian traditions. Rather than seeking solutions from the past, Davis creates a conversation between ancient texts and contemporary agrarian writers; thus she provides a fresh perspective from which to view the destructive practices and assumptions that now dominate the global food economy. The biblical exegesis is wide-ranging and sophisticated; the language is literate and accessible to a broad audience.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Two Ways of Knowing a Tree

There are, then, two ways of knowing a tree. One is the way of human feeling and sympathy, through which a tree becomes a part of one's self, as the sunshine does. It is identified with every hallowed experience. The influence of its benignant branches throws a savor into the commonest nooks and comers of our lives. Another way to know the tree is the botanical or analytical way. This method sternly scrutinizes every detail. This is essential to truth, but not to feeling. It is so likely to restrict and dwarf the vision and the sympathies as to make the tree but a laboratory filled with curiously fashioned mechanisms. Some persons are slaves to facts. There are botanists, no doubt, who know all the kinds of trees, but who have never seen the greenness and verdure and sublimeness of the woods. Yet, despite the narrow vision which may come from the analytical study of plants, there is no inherent reason why the person who traces the veins in the leaf, counts the seeds in the pod, and unravels the structure in the wood, may not also see the tree of which all these charming details are but the various parts. L.H. Bailey, introduction to "Familiar Trees and their Leaves"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Society of the Holy Earth

"I propose a Society of the Holy Earth. Chapters and branches it may have, but its purpose is not to be organization and its practice is not to be the operation of parliamentary machinery. It will have nothing to ask of anybody, not even of Congress. It will not be based on profit-and-loss. It will have no schemes to float, and no propaganda. It will have few officers and many leaders. It will be controlled by a motive rather than by a constitution. The associations will be fellowships of the spirit. Its principle of union will be the love of the Earth, treasured in the hearts of men and women. To every person who longs to walk on the bare ground, who stops in a busy day for the song of a bird, who hears the wind, who looks upward to the clouds, who would protect the land from waste and devastation realizing that we are transients and that multitudes must come after us, who would love the materials and yet not be materialistic, who would give of himself, who would escape self-centered, commercial and physical valuations of life, who would exercise a keepership over the planet,—to all these souls everywhere the call will come." L.H. Bailey, Universal Service (Image credit from

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Encore Online - The Agricultural Act of Eating:

“Eating is an agricultural act.”
    Wendell Berry’s quote is a simple observation of the reality of eating. So much energy and advertising is expended trying to separate us from what we eat that we don’t stop to realize that over 90 percent of a supermarket is not even food. Remaining blissfully unaware of what we eat and where it comes from is crippling us, but it’s curable.
    Not many years ago, most of our food was produced within a 100 miles of our homes...

Read the entire artilce at: Encore Online - The Agricultural Act of Eating:

Friday, April 30, 2010

City, Country & Civilization

"We have developed city civilization far beyond country civilization, and yet both are really the two necessary parts of human activity. City and country are gradually coming together in sympathy, but this is due more to acquaitanceship than to any underlying co-operation between them as equal forces in society. Until such an organic relationship exists, civilization cannot be perfected or sustained, however high it may rise in its various parts." L.H. Bailey, NY Times, July 12th 1910

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nature Is One Vast Democracy

"Every person who works in factory or field, who sails the sea or digs in mines, who finds his efforts with books or machines or with vast enterprises, who prophesies of things to come,—every one is touched by the same wind, encouraged by the same rain, grown by the same sun, uplifted by the same birds, guided by the same stars. Nature is one vast democracy."  L.H. Bailey, Ground-levels in Democracy, 1916

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quotable Bailey

"The man who worries morning and night about the dandelion in the lawn will find great relief in loving the dandelions"

Liberty Hyde Bailey, Manual of Gardening, 1910

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Simple Wisdom of the Fields

    The more perfect the machinery of our lives, the more artificial do they become. Teaching is ever more methodical and complex. The pupil is impressed with the vastness of knowledge and the importance of research. This is well; but at some point in the school-life there should be the opening of the understanding to the simple wisdom of the fields. One's happiness depends less on what he knows than on what he feels. L.H. Bailey, The Nature Study Idea

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Satisfaction of a Garden

    The satisfaction of a garden does not depend on the area, nor, happily, on the cost or rarity of the plants. It depends on the temper of the person. One must first seek to love plants and nature, and then to cultivate the happy peace of mind that is satisfied with little.
    In the vast majority of cases a person will be happier if he has no rigid and arbitrary notions, for gardens are moodish, particularly with the novice. If plants grow and thrive, he should be happy; and if the plants that thrive chance not to be the ones that he planted, they are plants nevertheless, and nature is satisfied with them.
    We are wont to covet the things that we cannot have; but we are happier when we love the things that grow because they must. A patch of lusty pigweeds, growing and crowding in luxuriant abandon, may be a better and more worthy object of affection than a bed of coleuses in which every spark of life and spirit and individuality has been sheared out and suppressed. The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in loving the dandelions. Each blossom is worth more than a gold coin, as it shines in the exuberant sunlight of the growing spring, and attracts the insects to its bosom. Little children like the dandelions: why may not we? Love the things nearest at hand; and love intensely. If I were to write a motto over the gate of a garden, I should choose the remark that Socrates is said to have made as he saw the luxuries in the market, "How much there is in the world that I do not want !" L.H. Bailey, Manual of Gardening

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Window Farming: A Do-It-Yourself Veggie Venture : NPR

If you have a green thumb, a window and a serious Do-It-Yourself ethic, you too, can be a farmer ... even in your downtown apartment building. Spring is here, and for urban dwellers with no access to soil, hydroponic gardening is a way to grow fresh veggies indoors.

Window Farming: A Do-It-Yourself Veggie Venture : NPR

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Apple Tree

And often in my wanderings I promise myself that when I reach home I shall see the apple-tree as I had never seen it before. Even its bark and its gnarly trunk will hold converse with me, and its first tiny leaves of the budding spring will herald me a welcome. Once again I shall be a youth with the apple-tree, but feeling more than the turbulent affection of transient youth can understand. Life does not seem regular and established when there is no apple-tree in the yard and about the buildings, no orchards blooming in the May and laden in the September, no baskets heaped with the crisp smooth fruits; without all these I am still a foreigner, sojourning in a strange land. - L.H. Bailey, The Apple Tree

Friday, March 26, 2010

Upcoming Programs & Events At The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum

    > NIGHT FOR MUSEUMS: Thursday, April 1st, 5:30-7:30 at Phoenix Cafe
    > MEMBERSHIP KICK-OFF OPEN HOUSE: Saturday, April 17th, 12 Noon- 3PM at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum; Even if you are not a member, come on down and see the changes and opportunities for you and the family at America's National Historic Site for the Father of Modern Horticulture!

    > KOUSA DOGWOOD SALE PICK-UP: Saturday, May 8th, 9 AM- 1PM at Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum: Pre-order the official flowering tree of South Haven. Trees measure approximate 36 inches for $30. Pre-order your tree by Wednesday May 5th! Call Anne French at 269-639-2412 or Esther Hanson at 269-637-2478:

    > STRAWBERRY ICE-CREAM FESTIVAL: Sunday, June 19th, 2PM-4PM: Bring the family and taste the season's best! Locally grown strawberries adorn locally made ice-cream. Being ecological never tasted so good!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Open to the Voices of Nature

"It is due to every child that his mind be opened to the voices of nature. The world is always quick with sounds, although our ears are closed to them. Every person hears the loud songs of birds, the sweep of heavy winds and the rush of rapid rivers or the sea; but the small voices with which we live are known not to one in ten thousand. To be able to distinguish the notes of the different birds is one of the choicest resources in life, and it should be one of the first results of a good education. It is but a step from this to the other small voices,—of the insects, the frogs and toads, the mice, the domestic animals, the flow of quiet waters, and the noises of the little winds. It is a great thing when one learns how to listen. At least once, every young person should sleep far out in the open, preferably in a wood or the margin of a wood, that he may know the spirit and the voices of the night and thereafter be free and unafraid." The Nature Study Idea, L.H. Bailey, 1909

Friday, March 19, 2010

Planting A Plant

    "Most persons are interested in plants, even though they do not know it. They enjoy the green verdure, the brilliant flower, the graceful form. They are interested in plants in general. I wish that every person were interested in some plant in particular. There is a pleasure in the companionship, merely because the plant is a living and a growing thing. It expresses power, vitality. It is a complete, self-sufficient organism. It makes its way in the world. It is alive.
    The companionship with a plant, as with a bird or an insect, means more than the feeling for the plant itself. It means that the person has interest in something real and genuine. It takes him out-of-doors. It invites him to the field. It is suggestive. It inculcates a habit of meditation and reflection. It enables one to discover himself." -L.H. Bailey, Planting a Plant, 'Nature-Study Quarterly, No. 8 : Leaflet 21, January, 1901

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Visit the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory, NOW!

For those that can't make the trip out to Ithica currently, click on the title link for a short video tour of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory with Cornell plant biologist Ed Cobb.
    In 1935, Bailey donated his herbarium and its library to Cornell University: "Call it an Hortorium... A repository for things of the garden — a place for the scientific study of garden plants, their documentation, their classification, and their naming." This conservatory became the major U. S. center for the systematics of cultivated plants. Enjoy!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Restoring Liberty Hyde Bailey's Birthsite

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum is currently being restored to bring alive this Greek Revival farm house. With the help of Picasa, take a close peek at the process.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Getting Unplugged and Back in the Child's Realm

The Kaiser Family Foundation  reports that American children's use of iPods and MP3 players and other electronic media has increased more than an hour in the last five years. Today a child will spend over 7 hours plugged-in.  (Children's Media Use, By Platform - Kaiser Slides) Solution? Connect back to nature as Bailey confesses in this poem, where even the grand Dean of Cornell was snubbed by a child enthralled in their timeless world.


A little child sat on the sloping strand
Gazing at the flow and the free,
Thrusting its feet into the golden sand,
Playing with the waves and the sea.

I snatched a weed that was tossed on the flood
And unravelled its tangled skeins;
And I traced the course of the fertile blood
That lay deep in its meshed veins;

I told how the stars are garnered in space,
How the moon on its course is rolled;
How the earth is hung in its ceaseless place
As it whirls in its orbit old.
The little child paused with its busy hands
And gazed for a moment at me,
Then it dropped again to its golden sands
And played with the waves and the sea.

L.H. Bailey, Wind and Weather

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quotable Bailey

"Sad would be the day were there no objects higher than man." L.H. Bailey
(This inscription by Bailey found in the frontpiece endpage of his 1927 Background Book, Harvest: Of the Year to the Tiller of the Soil, dated January 13th, 1928) 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's Slow Good!

Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. To do that, Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable. Check them out.

"Hamburg steak often contains sodium sulphite; bologna sausage and similar meats until recently usually contained a large percentage of added cereal. "Pancake flour" often contains little if any buckwheat; wheat flour is bleached with nitric oxide to improve its appearance. Fancy French peas are colored with sulphate of copper. Bottled ketchup usually contains benzoate of soda as a preservative. Japanese tea is colored with cyanide of potassium and iron. Prepared mustard usually contains a large quantity of added starch and is colored with tumeric. Ground coffee has recently been adulterated with roasted peas. So-called nonalcoholic bottled beverages often contain alcohol or a habit-forming drug and are usually colored with aniline. Candy is commonly colored with aniline dye and often coated with paraffine to prevent evaporation. Cheap candies contain such substances as glue and soapstone. The higher-priced kinds of molasses usually contain sulphites. Flavoring extracts seldom are made from pure products and usually are artificially colored. Jams are made of apple jelly with the addition of coloring matter and also of seeds to imitate berries from which they are supposed to be made; the cheap apple jelly is itself often imitated by a mixture of glucose, starch, aniline dye, and flavoring. Lard nearly always contains added tallow. Bakeries in large cities have used decomposed products, as decayed eggs. Cheap ice-cream is often made of gelatin, glue, and starch. Cottonseed-oil is sold for olive-oil. The poison saccharine is often used in place of sugar in prepared sweetened products.
   The attentive reader of the public prints in the recent years can greatly extend this humiliating recital if he choose. It is our habit to attach all the blame to the adulterators, and it is difficult to excuse them; but we usually find that there are contributory causes and certainly there must be reasons. Has our daily fare been honest?" Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Holy Earth

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Herald-Mail Article: Gardening, Bailey & Children

Dorry Norris's article supplies a well crafted thumbnail sketch of Bailey, his connection to gardening and how we can reconnect.

Lifestyle: Growing gardeners, by Dorry Norris
These days, gardening programs for kids are growing in popularity. Everyone, from The Herb Society of America to the National Gardening Association to local garden clubs, is creating strategies aimed at introducing children to the joys of nature through gardening...None of this emphasis would come as a surprise to Liberty Hyde Bailey, but the money expended might shock him.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

For Feb 12 - Charles Darwin Day (1809-1882)

I have seen great surprise expressed in horticultural works at the wonderful skill of gardeners in having produced such splendid results from such poor materials; but the art has been simple, and, as far as the final result is concerned, has been followed almost unconsciously. It has consisted in always cultivating the best known variety, sowing its seeds, and, when a slightly better variety chanced to appear, selecting it, and so onwards. -Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

The story goes that around 1870, a young Liberty Hyde Bailey found a used copy of Darwin's The Origin of Species in a South Haven library. Bailey's father, a Quaker from Vermont, took the book and informed Master Bailey that he needed to approve of its contents first. After a week, Bailey Sr. laid the book in young Liberty's hands explaining, "I don't understand a lick of it but he sounds like an honest man so go ahead and read it." Origin listed important scientists such as Asa Gray and Alfred Russel Wallace.  Later in his career, Bailey would study under Gray at Harvard. Bailey would tour Wallce at Michigan Agricultural School (now MSU).  The book continued to inform Bailey throughout his career.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Nasty Tradition of Disconnecting Ourselves from Nature

Despite the rhetoric of green living, Americans live in the wake of an industrialization that has cut us off from our roots of experience. It is so much so that the idea that we can be a part of nature, honor it, conserve it but also participate and use it seems to be a great contradiction. Most recently farming has been interpreted as "profoundly unnatural," in the Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage.

"[Farming] has led to widespread deforestation, environmental destruction, the displacement of 'natural' wildlife, and the transplant of plants and animals thousands of miles from the original habitats. It involves the genetic modification of plants and animals to create monstrous mutants that do not exist in nature and often cannot survive without human intervention...Agriculture would surely not be allowed if it were invented today."

Standage's book contains chapters of quick studies one of which is the domestication of corn. Standage makes a strong argument that that human intervention has radically changed this plant from its original roots, making it dependant on humans for its cultivation. The same can be said for the domestication of wheat. How Standage qualifies these alterations puts humans as the Dr. Frankenstein of nature. This may be more of a case with genetically altered foods. But by classifying farming or the process of changing plants to human needs as unnatural, characterizes humankind as a rouge species, alien to its own world.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Most Persons Do Not Know What a Superlative Watermelon is Like

As millions of people do not have gardens, so are they unaware of the low quality of much of the commercial produce as compared with things well grown in due season. Most persons, depending on the market, do not know what a superlative watermelon is like. Even such apparently indestructible things as cucumbers have a crispness and delicacy when taken directly from the vine at proper maturity that are lost to the store-window supply. Every vegetable naturally loses something of itself in the process from field to consumer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Resource for Our Food Essentials

I am afraid that our food habits very well represent how far we have moved away from the essentials...we want everything that is out of season, necessitating great attention to the arts of preserving and requiring still further fabrication; and by this desire we also lessen the meaning of the seasons when they come in their natural sequence, bringing their treasure of materials that are adapted to the time and to the place. L.H. Bailey, The Holy Earth

Just this weekend in a produce section of Michigan grocery store I spied the displayed landslide of tomatoes. Tomatoes in Michigan isn't a great mystery but tomatoes in January? Only via Mexico. A lot of ground to travel for a tomato. Cucumbers? Yup, Mexico. I don't even want to get into bananas. What did people eat when items were out of season? Worse, how does one unravel the carbon footprint of boxed and packaged items? Is it just as bad to purchase wine from Australia? No answers yet to that one but here is one resource that can unravel some of the food mysteries: As their website explains, "There are three simple things everyone should know about their food but don't: Where did it come from? How was it made? What's in it?" You can learn not only the ingredients of a product but also its environmental impact. It also has an iPhone app for the more technological savvy. It's another way to get back to our "food essentials." Now about that Australian wine...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quotable Bailey

War is organized anarchy.

The popular notion that the electing of any man to office is democracy, if only he is an upright citizen, is one of our precious fallacies. It is no more to our credit to " pass around " the offices than to ask first one neighbor and then another to serve as the family physician.

The wealth of a democracy lies in its people, not in its government or its goods. The product of democracy is self-acting men and women. The well being and progress of society require that every citizen, of whatever age, may have the opportunity to discover himself or herself and to make use of himself largely in his own way.

Responsibility, not freedom, is the key word in democracy,—responsibility for one's self, for the good of the neighbor, for the welfare of the Demos. Until every citizen feels this responsibility as an inescapable personal obligation, there is no complete democracy.

All quotes taken from Bailey's fourth Background Book, What is Democracy? (1918)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What's Gardening Good For?

By Scott J. Peters, Ph.D., Associate Editor, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement; Associate Professor, Department of Education, Cornell University.
Excerpted from Dr. Peter's 2005 Keynote Address: What's Gardening Good For?, New York State Master Gardener Conference, Ithaca, NY, June 1, 2005

Up against the big pressing problems of our time, problems like the loss of decent jobs, increasing disparities of wealth, a shrinking tax base and rising taxes, terrorism and war (just to name a few), gardening seems, well, trivial.

It’s not going to turn the economy around. It’s not going to provide us with thousands of good jobs. It’s not going to transform our political and economic systems. It’s not going to bring peace and security.

Given this, we might well ask: What’s gardening good for?

And here are a few more questions we might ask, given the tremendous squeeze on taxpayers these days, and on the resources that government has to spend on public services and programs:
Why should educational organizations like Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension, organizations that are funded in large part with people’s hard-earned tax dollars, be involved in gardening? Can gardening be a medium for meaningful education—that is, for education that really matters? If so, what kind of education, and what is it good for?

There are, it turns out, some very good answers to these questions.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Quotable Bailey

A garden is half-made when it is well planned. The best gardener is the one who does the most gardening by the winter fire. ~Liberty Hyde Bailey

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cornell Gardening Resource

A new year and time to begin planning the garden. Dean Bailey's adopted home of Cornell University and its Horticulture Department offers a great online gardening resource. Check it out:

Nature practices a wonderfully rigid economy. For nearly half the summer she even refused rain to the plants, but still they thrived; yet I staid home from a vacation one summer that I might keep my plants from dying. I have since learned that if the plants in my borders cannot take care of themselves for a few weeks, they are little comfort to me. - L.H. Bailey, Garden Making