One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use is the gardener’s own body. At a time when the national economy is largely based on buying and selling substitutes for common bodily energies and functions, a garden restores the body to its usefulness—a victory for our species. It may take a bit of effort to realize that perhaps the most characteristic modem “achievement” is the obsolescence of the human body. Jogging and other forms of artificial exercise do not restore the usefulness of the body, but are simply ways of assenting to its uselessness; the body is a diverting pet, like one’s Chihuahua, and must be taken out for air and exercise. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.
Excerpted from The Gift of Good Land, copyright(©) 1981 by Wendell Berry. Published by North Point Press and reprinted by permission.