Land is a significant theme in Genesis 1-11. It plays a prominent role in both blessing and judgment. McKeown summarizes that theme well:
When humans are alienated from God there are significant repercussions, because God uses the land to punish his recalcitrant subjects. Misdemeanors as diverse as eating ‘forbidden’ fruit (Gen 3:17-19), fratricide (Gen 4:10-16) and building a tower without divine approval (Gen 11:5-9) are all punished in relation to land. As a result, the ground is cursed (Gen 3:17-19), thorns and thistles make the ground more difficult to cultivate and less productive (cf. Gen 5:29), human beings must still work the soil but the benefits they receive are greatly reduced (Gen 3:19, 23), and the harmony established at creation is replaced by alienation culminating in the expulsion of the human beings from the idyllic surroundings of the garden of Eden (Gen 3:24). The account of the fratricide perpetrated by Cain shows that crimes such as murder could result in further alienation from the ground and in a total loss of fertility of the ground. The final crime in the primeval narratives is that of the tower builders whose insubordination results in them being scattered over all the earth. In these early stories fertile land is a gift from God and a sign of his blessing while infertility (famine) may be a consequence of divine displeasure.
J. McKeown, “Land, Fertility, Famine,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 488.