Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.

Rachel Carson and microscope

Rachel Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She grew up on her family farm and explored the natural world at a young age. She also wrote from a young age and had her first story published by the age of 10. Carson attended Pennsylvania College for Women and earned a degree in biology in 1928. She earned a Master’s degree in zoology from Johns Hopkins in 1932. She left her graduate studies to support her family.

In 1935, she began writing for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries radio program. She also submitted other articles to publications. In 1937, one of her articles, “Undersea,” was published in the Atlantic Monthly. This article later became her first book entitled Under the Sea-wind. By 1949, Carson worked as the editor-in-chief of all the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publications. She continued to write other books and articles as well. The Sea Around Us was published in 1952. That same year, Carson left her job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to devote herself to writing her own books full time. The Edge of the Sea came out in 1955.

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

After completing her trilogy about the ocean, Carson’s writing began to focus on the use of pesticides in the United States. She knew about pesticides and their increased uses beginning around World War II. By 1957, she turned her research to study the effects of the chemicals on the natural world. Her research was unpopular among chemical companies and those in the government who supported the use of such chemicals.

Carson was prepared to write her book about chemicals and the natural world by 1960. She was delayed that year by her diagnosis of breast cancer. She continued to work on the book and Silent Spring was published in 1962. The New Yorker serialized the book in its publication and other excerpts were published in periodicals. Silent Spring was widely read and became a controversial work. Carson worked diligently to spread the message of her book and continued to defend her research in the face of criticism. Carson testified before the Science Advisory Committee, a group set up by President Kennedy, as well as the U.S. Senate. She spoke in front of both of these groups in spite of her failing health.

On April 14, 1964, Rachel Carson died due to complications of her cancer. Her many books and articles survive as a testament to her dedication to the natural world. She defended her unpopular research in the face of massive criticism and controversy. Her work paved the way for the banning of certain chemical pesticides and sparked the modern environmental movement in the United States.

This notion that “science” is something that belongs in a separate compartment of its own, apart from everyday life, is one that I should like to challenge. We live in a scientific age; yet we assume that knowledge of science is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated and priest-like in their laboratories. This is not true. It cannot be true. The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience. It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.

Rachel Carson and Silent Spring Book Cover