I grew up in the city and later moved to “the country” but in each of these settings my family always had a garden. My Dad made garden beds along the fence at our city house and grew herbs on the windowsill. Then later when we had 3 acres, Dad created a beautiful backyard garden that produced enough veggies to feed a small army. Growing your own food was a novelty back when I was in high school, not many people were doing it. Having a plethora of fresh veggies all summer long made for fun times cooking, making salsa and even bartering with squash (yes once I paid my cab fare with a bunch of squash… Seriously ask my friends). Fortunately now it’s both trendy and practical to grow your own food and there’s really no wrong way to start your backyard garden. Those summers learning how to work in the garden and enjoying the “fruits if our labor” really stuck with me and my brothers. My brother Russ now operates a small organic garden business in Kelly WY (outside of Jackson hole) and supplies the small community with fresh weekly garden shares. My niece has spent her short life helping harvest and plant (and catching a worm or two).
Gardening brings people together, and teaches us how our food is grown from the pure substances on our earth… sunlight, dirt and water. We learn to work with our hands and experience the process of putting food on our plate. And also, what food IS… Not packaged, but grown from the earth. It takes time, energy and effort … and isn’t that what life is all about? We live in a culture where convenience trumps quality and that sentiment has seeped into our ideas about our health…being healthy should be convenient and easy. We put our trust in huge corporations hundreds of miles away to feed our families and consequently it has become cheaper and faster to eat chicken grown in the US, processed in China, then shipped back to stores across America. It has become more expensive and time consuming to rely on our local communities.
The industrialization of our food has disconnected us from our neighbors and the Earth. Our lack of mindfulness has translated into chronic diseases and obesity, stress, unhappiness, restlessness, anxiety, depression. Gardening offers some relief from our convince based cultural mindset. But, as I’ve learned and continue to learn, anything worth doing requires a little effort and intention. If we don’t want to treat our food as a convenience commodity anymore, we must be willing to spend some time and give our full attention to see results. Take a break, spend some time cultivating. Connect with our earth, the planet, yourself. Be mindful, watch a small seed grow into a beautiful plant that nourishes our bodies with every micro-nutrient we were biologically destined to eat! It magic and it’s real! Michael pollen said it best in his investigation into the industrial food model which is making us sick, “eat food, mostly plants” and you’ll feel better.
Take a little bit of the control back and learn to grow your own. And you don’t need 3 acres to do it…. Just clear off some space on your windowsill and plant some basil, rosemary and sage.