Good Farming

In his essay “The Agrarian Standard,” the philosopher, poet, and farmer Wendell Berry writes:

“What we have undertaken to defend is the complex accomplishment of knowledge, cultural memory, skill, self-mastery, good sense, and fundamental decency — the high and indispensable art — for which we can probably find no better name than ‘good farming.’ I mean farming as defined by agrarianism as opposed to farming as defined by industrialism: farming as the proper use and care of an immeasurable gift.”

If it’s true that, in the connection/creative economy, “we are all artists now,” it stands to reason that we all bear the responsibility of “good farming,” as Berry uses the term here.

The great news and the scary news are one and the same: the price of moving beyond industrialism is re-learning the proper use and care of immeasurable gifts — inside us and outside of us; given and earned.

As long as there have been industrialists (at least of the old school), they have wanted to make it seem more frightening to take that responsibility upon ourselves than to cede it (along with our labor) to the captains of industry. After all, they know best.

Except, of course, they don’t. And the price of refusing responsibility is starting to look higher and higher.

If we’re already flying into the waves, staying low is no longer the safe option. Flying higher only feels scarier — as any immeasurable gift should.