—Liberty Hyde Bailey—
Preserving The
Selection #4
From The Harvest

Dateline: 6 February 2014

It is repeatedly insisted that we should give more attention to the business side of agriculture. This is undisputed; but there are three other sides to a square occupation. Farming is not a business, in the usual sense; but business methods may be applied in it. Persons who are business men at heart are not in place on the farm, although many of them may be living there. Our present style of teaching, by stressing all the business activities, is likely to make farming as hard and unfeeling as much of our general industry; such a result would be deplorable. Farming is not an institution of high-pressure production. It is said that we must learn to run the farms like factories; if this is possible and we accrue the results of typical factories then I shall consider agriculture a failure, whatever may be the outcome in cheapened food production.

By some means we must try to save the amateur spirit in farming, that is, the love of it (as the word signifies) and to find therein a substantial reward. It is unfortunate that we have so long used this word “amateur” erroneously as to miss its real meaning; the most seasoned practical farmer may still be an amateur, for the word does not mean a tyro, beginner, novice, smatterer or mere sentimentalist.

In the farmer-at-heart is a quality different from the commercial instinct; perhaps this is one reason why his troubles multiply in a commercial epoch

—Liberty Hyde Bailey
   The Harvest of The Year To The Tiller of The Soil (1927)


Liberty Hyde Bailey saw that the traditional "farmer-at-heart," who farmed because he loved farming as a way of life, was being dispossessed by the farmer-as-businessman. Unfortunately, all he could do was call attention to, and lament the reality of, the situation. There was no stopping the powerful forces that were continuing to destroy traditional farming, and reshape it to suit the best interests of the industrial masters.


Webster's 1828 dictionary indicates that the word "amateur" comes from "Latin anator, a lover, from amo, to love." The 1828 definition of the word is: A person attached to a particular pursuit, study or science, as to music or painting; one who has a taste for the arts.

As L.H. Bailey explains, the original meaning of the word had changed by 1927 when he wrote The Harvest. Webster's 1913 edition defines the word as follows (bold emphasis is mine): A person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science as to music or painting; esp. one who cultivates any study or art, from taste or attachment, without pursuing it professionally.


Bailey's use of the word, "smatterer" took me to the dictionary again. The 1828 definition is: One who has only a slight, superficial knowledge. Smatterer is a synonym for "sciolist." A sciolist is: One who knows little, or one who knows many things superficially; a smatterer. 

Aren't words fun!


Anonymous said...

Now I KNOW that I AM a farmer! It's been nearly impossible to explain to anyone who doesn't "do it"---that absolutely marvelous feeling of being connected to all that is alive as I work in the garden or the barn. I AM an amateur and can now be a bit proud of that fact. Thanks so much for sharing this article...

Sheila said...

Whenever I read something about Industry taking the place of the farmer, I become sad inside.

God put us here, in a beautiful garden, that He created for us, and although it may take the "sweat of the brow" to make the land produce, it is still "Heaven on Earth" to me.

I live in an area that not only has vast machines for Ag. but also Amish farms, with buggies and horses, and there is no mistake where human beings belong.

When I see an Amish farmer tilling his soil, my heart still lifts up with joy, and I think of God.

If that is not proof of God's creation being for us, then I don't know what is.