It was Liberty Hyde Bailey’s birthday last week, and I forgot to send a card, or even wish him Happy Birthday on Facebook. He would have been 155 years old on March 15. In case you have not heard of Liberty Hyde Bailey, here’s a brief biography, completed after extensive research on wikipedia:
Born on a fruit farm in South Haven, Michigan, Bailey went on to become one of the nation’s most important horticulturists. He authored sixty-five books on horticulture, countless essays and articles, and was a leader of the Country Life movement, which sought to preserve rural American values and the family farm in an age of urbanization and industrialization. In Bailey’s efforts to modernize the family farm reside all the age old tensions which have existed between traditional farmers and the agriculture reformers who believed it was their mission to save them. He was central to the development of the Agricultural Extension system which to this day provides support and resources for farmers in many states. Bailey’s influence on American agrarianism, on horticultural science, and on American agricultural policy was vast.
Today, Bailey’s boyhood home in South Haven, Michigan has been preserved as a museum. I have not been there, but hope to make a visit this summer. The museum also hosts a Liberty Hyde Bailey Blog, which highlights Bailey’s writings on agriculture and nature. They also have a presence on Facebook. Cornell University also has an excellent online exhibition, Liberty Hyde Bailey: A Man for All Seasons.