Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village by Ronald Blythe

By Ronald Blythe

Woven from the phrases of the population of a small Suffolk village within the 1960s, Akenfield is a masterpiece of twentieth-century English literature, a scrupulously saw and deeply affecting portrait of a spot and folks and a now vanished lifestyle. Ronald Blythe's remarkable booklet increases enduring questions on the family among reminiscence and modernity, nature and human nature, silence and speech.

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Additional resources for Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village

Example text

We have come to understand that our effort with the soil is perhaps our most important work, because it will endure long after we are gone, after all our other marks on this land have disappeared. This is not a new or radical idea. In fact, prior to the advent of synthesized, fossil-fuel-derived fertility and other agricultural technologies—all developed over the past 100 years—the importance of vibrant, living soil was broadly accepted. The simple fact that the health of a nation is dependent on the health of its soils was understood to be a truism.

From there, the zones expand, in accordance with the frequency of interaction. Zone 1 might include a kitchen garden that is visited on a daily basis, along with the outhouse, if there is one; zone 3 might be pasture or a small orchard. By the time you get to zone 5, you’re in wild, unmanaged space, assuming there is wild, unmanaged space accessible to you. The zone concept seems fairly sound to me; truthfully, it’s really just a chartable representation of simple common sense. Frankly, the volume of charted/mapped/graphed information in the pages of most permaculture books 48 overwhelms both Penny and me.

All that said, there are a handful of factors that would disqualify a particular property for us. We would not consider land that did not offer abundant clean water. We would not consider land that did not include a woodlot for firewood, building materials, wildlife, and wild edibles. If a piece of land were surrounded by farms cultivating genetically modified (GM) crops, or any enterprise—agricultural or otherwise—that involved intensive, frequent use of sprays and/or chemicals (beware the large-scale conventional orchard, berry business, cornfield, or Christmas tree farm), it would fall off our list.

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