Book Review (The Gift of Good Land-Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural by Wendell Berry)

“A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.” Wendell Berry

I am fortunate in that I have very generous friends. This winter I turned 40 and two friends of mine bought me a number of books I had been interested in reading as a gift.

I recently finished reading the second book they purchased for me which is The Gift of Good Land- Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural by Wendell Berry.  The majority of this 281 page book consist of essays written in the 1970’s. Sadly a large number of the issues covered in this amazing piece of literature still hold true today.

The book consist of twenty-four essays that range from his exploration of ancient American agriculture in the Peruvian highlands that have successfully fed locals for at least 4,500 years to the American Amish farm experience.

There tends to be a common thread to all of his essays. Mr. Berry expresses in no uncertain terms that modern agriculture, or agribusiness as we know it, is not a sustainable enterprise. He holds the industry responsible for poor farm land as well as poor farming techniques. With the eloquence of a poet, which he truly is, he explores the unsettling reality that the modernization of agricultural is in all finality the root of our current farming problems. From eroding topsoil to the loss of historically proven techniques modern agribusiness has lost touch with the farmers first responsibility, land stewardship.  

He presents moving argument for horses rather than tractors, hand tools rather than petroleum powered equipment and simply living within ones means. He expresses concerns that acreage known as “marginal” land is regularly overlooked in all areas of the country from New England to Kansas in exchange for monocrop deserts of corn and soy. He stands foremost for stewardship and responsibility and at the end of the day common sense.

Writing this I can hear the birds and the wind swaying among the pines and maple and can immediately relate that the gift of good land is not something to be overlooked. If you chose to read one author in regards to your passion for gardening I would recommend exploring the world and mind of Wendell Berry.
For more Wendell Berry check out this link,

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


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