Everywhere [during the early Middle Ages] we see the monks instructing the population in the most profitable methods and industries, naturalizing under a vigorous sky the most useful vegetables and the most productive grains, importing continually into the countries they colonized animals of better breed, or plants new and unknown there before; here introducing the rearing of cattle and horses, there bees or fruit; in another place the brewing of beer with hops; in Sweden, the corn trade; in Burgundy, artificial pisciculture; in Ireland, salmon fisheries; about Parma, cheese making. They taught the necessity of letting the land be fallow for a time after several years of continuous cropping; they practised rotation of crops, using clover as the last in the series; they improved the different varieties of fruits and learned the art of grafting, budding and layering; they taught by precept and example the value of drainage and irrigation. In short, in everything making for progressive agriculture we find them blazing the way, and when the monasteries were suppressed by Henry VIII a death-blow was struck for a time at scientific agriculture and horticulture.

Henry M. Goodell, “The Influence of the Monks in Agriculture and Christian Civilization” (Sacred Heart Review, 3 December 1910)


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