Monday, 26 March 2012

Seeing our place, saving our world - why I garden

For years now, I've plonked in some veggies in the backyard garden when the weather got warm. A bit of basil. Some straggly tomatoes. Lettuces. Or chives.

But like with a lot of things in my life, I am just starting to realize that there is so so much more to growing a garden than I'd ever thought. I get the feeling that I've just skimmed my toes across the surface of a great big sea.
It might be time to take a swim.

We eat every day. (or at least, that's true for most of here in Canada. Not in some other places... but that's another problem for another day.)
If you're like me, you eat vegetables every day.
And you start to take food for granted. It will be there when you want it - from a grocery store or your kitchen shelf. Put it on your shopping list and you get it.

But that's not everything.

I'm just discovering how much of what I eat is shipped here from other places. Or grown in huge monocultures so that everyone in the north can have a fresh (or some imitation of ripe) banana or orange or apple when they feel like it.
So growing a garden is a way of of being aware of what we eat and learning how our food grows.

Recently, I tapped into Just Food which is Ottawa's hub for growing and eating local food.
I found that there are farmer's markets. Organic food. CSA's. Community gardens.

But that's not everything.
I know that a lot of the time farmers and gardeners spray their foods with toxic pesticides and use unnatural fertilizers to make them grow - fast and big. A lot of what our culture values (and if we don't pay attention, us too) revolve around that: the immediate satisfaction and easy answers.

But they're not always good answers -
And in this case, there are better ones; ones less destructive of the ecosystems and communities around us.

This week, I've been reading a book called Imagination in Place by Wendell Berry, a farmer and an author whose wisdom and insight I admire immensely.
He says we need to start  by respecting the land and its people. That we need to look at what is around us and see it fully - see its needs and its possibilities and what will in the end make it healthy and flourishing.

I think he's right.
We do need to see the web of life that surrounds us: the birds; the bees; the worms; the predatory bugs that munch happily on pests; the invisible organisms which make healthy soil full of a diversity all sorts of life; all the creatures that make up the ecosystems which we live in.
We need to nurture and protect all this.

But how? I'm just one person. I can't fix all of the world's sore needs.

But I can dig in the earth and start a garden. I can look and learn. Listen long and hard.
I take a big breath and dive into the sea I trailed my toes across, and see what has been there all along.
I can rejoice in and cultivate the small but important patch of God's creation that He's placed on my doorstep.
Planting this veggie garden of mine and writing about it can be my way of doing this.

What are your ways? (Tell in the comments...)

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