This blog is written with unreserved apologies to all my family and friends in Ontario and Alberta and other places across the country eastward of the Fraser Valley – i.e. all those places that are beyond Hope (sorry, couldn’t resist – just a little wet coast humour). But it’s the middle of February, and here in Sooke that means it’s time to start working on the garden. The broad beans need to be planted, and the early peas, and some greens. And it’s time to start germinating other seeds in the greenhouse, to be ready for when the soil warms up in April.
Now, I’m not a particularly avid gardener. Don’t get me wrong – I love the idea of gardening, I’m just not quite sold on all the work that’s involved. It’s actually my partner, Sandra, who loves to garden; and I garden because I love Sandra. Makes sense to me. And besides, I’m coming to believe that it’s everyone’s duty as a citizen to also be a gardener. We take and take and take from the earth, and it’s high time we all put something back in to restore and replenish and rebuild (the new 3-R’s). Everyone. It’s not someone else’s job, it belongs to each of us.
My gardening motivation got a major boost a couple of years ago, when we attended a presentation from Vandana Shiva. What a remarkable person! I was taken by her amazing ability to cut through the crap; to take enormously complex issues and focus in on the essential truths, making our world and our options so much clearer. Among other things, she talks about gardening, and about how the act of growing our own food, saving our seeds, and not dumping all kinds of manufactured chemicals into the earth in order to sustain ourselves should be recognized for what it really is: an act of rebellion. It’s a simple matter of pushing back against the corporate domination of our lives – maybe it’s just small steps, but those are small steps that everyone can take, and those small steps add up. “It is true” Shiva says “that the concentration of power is more than ever before. But I think the awareness about the illegitimacy of this power is also more than ever before. If you take into account the number of movements, the number of protests taking place, and the number of people building alternatives, it’s huge.”
And gardening is on the leading edge of that awareness. It’s something everyone can do in some way – on an acreage, in a garden plot, in a box or in a pot. Everyone can grow something. “In planting a seed” Shiva says “you are one with the cycles and regenerative capacity of life…. A seed sown in the soil makes us one with the Earth. It makes us realize that we are the Earth.”
So as we come together in the coming years – as we will, as we must – to set things right, let’s start by planting a seed. Grow a veggie and nourish your body. Grow a flower and nourish your spirit. Grow a tree and nourish your grandchildren. Put your hands in the soil and get them dirty…you won’t be disappointed.
Gotta go now, it’s stopped raining.