By Susan Sides Executive Director
Growing food is one of the most politically & socially neutral things a person or a community can do. Not tied to any political party, religion, race, nationality, gender or socio- economic status, with a little help, it is truly an opportunity for the masses. In fact, back in the early 1940s, 20 million households had set up victory gardens, supplying more than 40 percent of the nation’s produce! Yes, the sun photosynthesizes, the rain falls and the microorganisms do their job regardless of who sows the seed. And yet…
Growing food is now one of the most radical things a person or a community can do. By choosing to grow even a small portion of the food we eat, we are choosing to become part of a subversive ‘plot’. Instead of shutting ourselves off indoors, working or amusing ourselves to death, and remaining isolated from the knowledge of how to provide our for ourselves, we can take back some power over our health, our diet, our pocketbooks and our communities by growing even a little of our own food.
As Roger Dorion quips, gardening is also a ‘healthy gateway drug’ into other forms of freedom and knowledge. Once we’ve grown all this gorgeous food, now what do we do with it? This leads us to learn how to prepare and preserve our amazing bounty and to find out who our neighbors are as we give our excess away. Having tasted our own minutes-old veggies, we are hooked and look for local farmers to support and in doing so, learn much about their passion and their struggles. By fertilizing with compost, cover crops and natural amendments we unhook from the excessive use of fossil fuels needed to grow, water and transport our nation’s produce. We learn about seasons and science and hunger and obesity and begin to realize that everyone eats or at least needs to. Growing food is a gift we can share that will never go out of style or become obsolete. By allowing ourselves permission to work and get dirty we heal our bodies, our minds and our souls.
If you love intrigue, there’s plenty of that to be had as well. When we gave up our understanding of food and how to grow it, all hell broke loose. You might find yourself incensed to learn that corporations have patented many seeds so that it is illegal to save seeds from those plants, that our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that put profit ahead of consumer healthy, that farmers are being squeezed to the point that there are so few of them they do not even show up as an occupation on the national census, and that obesity and diabetes are epidemic in large part due to the profitable change from food to ‘food products’.
So planting a tomato or even a 3 by 3 foot garden is not only something everyone can do, it is also radical (radical – meaning ‘root’). Growing food slows us down, opens our eyes, our minds, and our hearts. It begins a conversation.
If you’d like to converse while planting carrots, harvesting kale or pulling weeds, come see us this year at The Lord’s Acre. www.thelordsacre.org. We will be offering garden classes and our volunteer times start in March. To receive our weekly email updates of what’s happening when in the garden as well as in and around our area, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be on our email list.