The essays in The Gift of Good Land are as true today as when they were first published in 1981; the problems addressed here are still with us and the solutions no nearer to hand. One of the insistent themes of this book is the interdependence, the wholeness, the oneness of people, the land, weather, animals, and family. To touch one is to tamper with them all. We live in one functioning organism whose separate parts are artificially isolated by our culture.
The twenty-four essays in this collection cover a variety of subjects, from the author’s journeys to the Peruvian Andes, to the desert of southern Arizona, and to Amish country to study the evolution of ancient native agricultural practices. In “Solving for Pattern,” Mr. Berry lists fourteen critical standards for solving agricultural problems that can just as easily be used as standards for solving personal and family problems. In the title essay, the author examines our Judeo-Christian heritage to discover parallels with the Buddhist doctrine of “right livelihood” or “right occupation.” He develops the compelling argument that the “gift” of good land has strings attached. We have it only on loan and only for as long as we practice good stewardship.