Friday, January 8, 2010

observations

There's been little for me to blog about gardening lately, not that I haven't been thinking about what I would. It's not that my interest has faded, but rather how it's changed, and how I feel about the gardening climate today.

The hysteria over "climate change", environmental concerns, and "the food crisis" has sent the media and politicians after gardeners to save the world, and everyone wants a piece of it. I've been trying to avoid all of this and remain true to the more containable story, mine.
My story is ever changing, as all good stories do. Amy’s Garden has moved and moved again, and many of my beloved plants have found new homes in community gardens, lost their battle with moving, or have survived with me to tell their story. Amy’s gardening experiences have evolved as well and in many ways come full circle. I’ll be back at the greenhouse this spring; the community gardens will grow on, and I will return to where the air is clean and I can be myself again.

It's difficult to compose my words because I certainly can't find fault in people wanting to grow things. What I've always enjoyed most about the greenhouse are the conversations that develop about techniques and tricks people have picked up over the years, or things they learned from a grandmother, father, or friend. Essentially the latest wave of community gardening is bringing people and those conversations together in a way that is not all that different in nature, just a little more in your face. To have kitchen gardening become an even hotter topic outside the greenhouse how could I complain? I guess it was that the unique quality to those conversations has been altered somehow.

It's the motivation behind the effort that has often discouraged me in the recent year. This is where I find it difficult to get too involved. I'd like to think that the motivation is to share one's love for gardening, and demonstrate what can be produced with a little effort, but I think it's become more of a competition of involvement.

I feel have been and am overwhelmed with the topic from every direction. Again, why do I find this disconcerting? I know part of my hesitation comes from knowing I feel quite different from most on a few of the more politically, and to many, moral, topics that tend to be surrounded in great debate - none of which I feel like getting into passionately.
Luckily my significant other is also a disbeliever of many of the hot urban garden myths, namely "global warming", and provides wonderful literature for coffee table resources. Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor by Roy Spencer, and Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed by Christopher C. Horner, to name a couple. He's a scientist, which I think is so sexy, but also confirms his wonderful sense of logic. I'm very attracted to that.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for improving any negative human impact on the earth, I just don't agree with the current agenda put forth in the media through the politicians.

The phrase "food security" alone creates a kind of problematic fear factor of it's own. On it's own it defines itself properly in that the objective is to "secure safe and healthy food for oneself"; but with the decade's use of the word "security" the expression presents, whether it wants it or not a troubling underlying mood. I don't mean to sound callous, but people have been starving all over the world for as long as we've been around. If sustainable agriculture is going to save them, it would have done so long ago.
The recent organic movement is also instilling terror in the population with documentaries such as the Monsanto and Food Inc. (although extremely valid and true), and discredit all attempts at food modification (which could save the starving), while at the same time opened up a Pandora's box of what food manufacturer's have been feeding us for so long. I think it's doubtful that organic agriculture is the solution.
Is it politics and the current state of the economy? The reaction from people and communities in similar situations (the Victory Gardens of the World Wars, for instance) influenced community gardens, so it's not surprising that during another downward slope in the economic markets, we find a rise in the farmer's markets, right? It should be inspiring, and it is, but again local food (especially in the Thunder bay area) has been available for a long time, as has the market, and only recently has enjoyed this surge of attention.

While driving around town the other day, R and I heard a CBC Radio One broadcast about Haiti and how the country spends $1,000,000.00 each year importing eggs. They were interviewing an eleven year old boy who was collecting eggs from a coop rather than playing soccer, who said (paraphrased) he would rather be helpful than playful.The question of the story was the same we've been hearing often lately, which is why are some countries and communities having to put out such expense for something that could be produced locally. I don't have the answers of course, but the questions are certainly provoking.

When I first started working at the greenhouse more people were interested in flowers, while vegetables not so much. There was always the old Polish guys looking for their eggplants, and that non-English speaking elderly Italian woman who bought and planted every food plant we had (her garden is near the 55+ Center and is incredible). Tomatoes are always very popular too. Most people though, just wanted the baskets with the bacopa and a specific list of plants for a container a magazine designed.
Last year the greenhouse could hardly keep up with the demand for vegetable plants.

It will be a satisfying return to the greenhouse, and one I'm deeply looking forward to. I anxious to have my fingers handing seedlings by the thousands, smell the air, and soak up the sights of row upon row of plants of all kinds. It's not about saving the world, but growing plants and finding them homes. I'm happy with the simplicity of that. As far as Amy's Garden grows, that's another post. Fueled by our love for cooking Rohan and I have numerous plans to incorporate some of our own plans into the adopted garden we have, as well as rejuvenating the front shade garden. I will have lots to say as all this develops.



A view over the LU Garden from the Centennial Building, reflecting me.

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