March 4, 2010
News Release

Arlington Reads 2010 Looks at Our Food and Where it Comes From

Literary Legend, Farmer Wendell Berry is Featured Author, Guest Speaker; Urban Farmer Novella Carpenter Also to Appear

Contact: Peter Golkin, 703-228-3346

Our food—once raised primarily by neighbors for neighbors —takes center plate this spring as Arlington Reads 2010 looks at the movement away from industrial mass production back to safer, healthier meals grown through local, sustainable means. In the 21st century, “You are what you eat” has never had bigger ramifications.

Arlington Reads is Arlington Public Library’s annual one-book, one-community initiative to promote discussion and the joy of reading throughout the County. It is made possible through the generous support of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library.

This year’s featured Arlington Reads author—literary legend, essayist, poet and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry—is widely credited with inspiring the so-called “food movement” years ago, having declared that “eating is an agricultural act.” Making a rare public appearance, Berry will speak at Central Library on May 4 at 7 p.m. to discuss his life’s work and vision of people honoring and reconnecting with the soil.

Join the Discussion

Berry’s classic novel “The Memory of Old Jack” is this year’s featured Arlington Reads featured title.  The book finds truth and integrity in the land looking through the eyes of an aging farmer in 1952 rural Kentucky. It will be the subject of a community discussion in Central Library Auditorium on April 19 at 7 p.m. Leading the exchange will be Professor Patrick Deneen, director of Georgetown University’s Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy.

“Wendell Berry actually began the national conversation about food, agriculture, the environment and health decades ago,” Library Director Diane Kresh says. “Without him, we probably wouldn’t have a vegetable garden on the White House lawn or Wal-Mart trying to sell organic produce.”

Kresh says this year’s Arlington Reads celebrates not only Berry’s “remarkable career as a writer of over 30 novels, essays and collections of poetry but his prescience in encouraging readers to ‘think globally and eat locally.’”

The Library has “The Memory of Old Jack” available in a variety of formats. Copies have also been made available to Library-sponsored book groups.

As a complement to Berry’s appearance, Arlington Reads will also feature an appearance by urban farmer and author Novella Carpenter at Central Library on April 29 at 7 p.m. Carpenter has restaged the American agrarian dream in an abandoned Oakland, California lot, raising fruits, vegetables, bees and even pigs and goats in a neighborhood known as “GhostTown.” Her critically acclaimed “Farm City”—featured on “best book lists” from Oprah to the New York Times—spreads the gospel of home-grown food and the empowerment it brings.

While in Arlington, Carpenter also plans to share thoughts with high school students and explore some of the County’s farmers markets and community gardens.

Information on all Arlington Reads 2010 events and offerings including book club kits can be found at Contact Library spokesman Peter Golkin to arrange interviews with Berry or Carpenter.

Arlington Reads will offer a panel discussion at Shirlington Branch Library on “Eating Local” on April 11 at 3 p.m. A group of area farmers and naturalists will look at simple ways to eat foods that are safer, healthier and geared to the bounty of each season. It’s all part of the sustainable, consumer-supported agriculture movement that has built a following in groceries and restaurants around Arlington.

In addition, Shirlington also will screen the critically acclaimed documentary “Food, Inc.” on April 7 at 3 p.m., and the ensemble drama “Fast Food Nation,” based on the Eric Schlosser best-seller, on April 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Central Library Auditorium hosts a “work-in-progress” screening of the documentary “A Community of Gardeners,” produced by local filmmaker Cintia Cabib, on April 17 at 2 p.m. The film explores the vital role of seven community gardens in Washington, D.C., not only as sources of nutritious food, but as outdoor classrooms, centers of social interaction and oases of beauty and calm in inner-city neighborhoods.  The screening will be followed by a Q-and-A session with Cabib.

Central Library in April is also the site of a month-long juried art exhibition, “The Art of Food.”

So come hungry—for some stimulating conversation about what you eat, why, and where it comes from. It’s Arlington Reads 2010.


The Arlington Public Library system is made up of seven branches and Central Library in Virginia Square.

The Library circulates approximately three million items each year, including books, DVDs, CDs and audio-books. The system also offers public computers, wireless hotspots, meeting and study rooms, films, lectures, seminars, art shows and “24/7” online resources including downloadable books, foreign language instruction, newspapers, magazines and other databases.

More Arlington Public Library transactions take place online than at any physical location except Central Library. Arlington Reads is held in spring to coincide with National Library Week, which this year begins April 11.

Arlington Reads is the Arlington Public Library’s county-wide initiative to read one thought-provoking book each year, thereby promoting dialogue and the joy of reading throughout the community.

Arlington Reads is made possible by the generosity of Friends of the Arlington Public Library.

Graphic design work for Arlington Reads 2010 was provided by B. Lewis.

Find previous Arlington Reads Titles.