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Area Teacher/Farmer Gets Off the Grid, Discovers Community

January 24, 2011

Notre Dame, IN—In his moving debut book, Kyle Kramer—America columnist, teacher at St. Meinrad Archabbey, and organic farmer—recounts his candid, humorous, and hope-infused tale of coming to know God and himself. In A Time to Plant, Kramer tells how he came to experience the joys of real community through a journey of honest reckoning with his own ambitions. For Kramer, the story involved lots of dirt.

In the summer of 1999, this earnest and high-achieving private school teacher in Atlanta decided to forego a promising academic career. A growing uneasiness with the excesses of American consumerist culture had taken root in his mind and heart and had grown into personal convictions about what it means to be stewards of God’s creation.

Those who share a growing skepticism toward consumerism might simply have started bringing canvas totes to the grocery store or patronizing the local farmer’s market. But Kramer experienced a radical call to downward mobility; he heeded the voices of the unlikely prophets in his life and purchased a block of hardscrabble land in southern Indiana in order to start a small farm. Tending it back to health—one difficult lesson at a time—Kramer founded Genesis Organic Farm, built a self-sustaining and environmentally friendly home, and began to fully embrace the Benedictine traditions of physical labor, prayer, and hospitality.

A Time to Plant tells the deeply human story of one man’s attempt to make simple living a reality as a spiritual discipline for himself, as a model for his children, and for the good of creation. As Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy, writes in the foreword to A Time to Plant,"This book and the story it tells may seem in some sense quiet, mostly confined to a small parcel of land. But it strikes me as a fine and hopeful adventure, one that should give heart to all kinds of people as they try to figure out where they’re called to be."

Audio

  • Kyle Kramer on The Busted Halo Show on Sirius XM's The Catholic Channel

  • NPR (WNIN Evansville) Interview with Micah Schweizer. Farmer-Author: Anyone Can Be a Farmer

  • Mountains no More: America magazine podcast

About Kyle T. Kramer

Kyle T. Kramer is the executive director of the nonprofit Passionist Earth & Spirit Center, which offers interfaith educational programming in meditation, ecology, and compassion. Educated at Indiana University, the Universität Hamburg (Germany), and Emory University, he is the former director of graduate theology programs and spiritual formation for Saint Meinrad, a Benedictine monastery and school of theology.

Kramer and his family spent fifteen years as organic farmers and homesteaders in Spencer County, Indiana. He serves as a Catholic climate ambassador for the USCCB-sponsored Catholic Climate Covenant and is a columnist for St. Anthony Messenger. He previously served as a columnist and essayist for America magazine. Kramer speaks across the country on issues of ecology and spirituality.

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