Wendell Berry, from The Unsettling of America:
Whereas the exploiter asks of a piece of land only how much and how quickly it can be made to produce, the nurturer asks a question that is much more complex and difficult: What is its carrying capacity? (That is: How much can be taken from it without diminishing it? What can it produce dependably for an indefinite time?) The exploiter wishes to earn as much as possible by as little work as possible; the nurturer expects, certainly, to have a decent living from his work, but his characteristic wish is to work as well as possible. The competence of the exploiter is in organization; that of the nurturer is in order — a human order, that is, that accommodates itself both to other order and to mystery.
What Berry has done both as a farmer and a writer is to practice this nurturing; and I have tried as both a writer and a teacher to do the same, within my rather different sphere of effective action.
Since I do not have a farm I am more of a hunter-gatherer — my practice of nurture is perhaps better described by Ursula K. LeGuin in her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction”:
If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it’s useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again — if to do that is human, if that’s what it takes, then I am a human being after all.
And for me the challenge has always been to become more cunning in my gathering, more scrupulously attentive to objects and ideas that others have discarded as worthless. To nurture the neglected, the forgotten.