Gardening is...

I've been writing this blog on and off for the last few years as I attended college, and experienced some pretty large life changes.  I haven't written anything in a number of months because I've been busy with work and life.  Things have settled down, and I figured the fresh start to a new year would be a good time to begin blogging again, this time with more regularity and purpose.

The following quotation, written by Henry David Thoreau in 1849, has become a bit of a personal creed, as well as the source of my blog's name.  I thought, then, I should start with an introduction to how I interpret and adapt Thoreau's words into a set of beliefs that guide my life, actions and writing.

Gardening - that's where it all begins, though in my world that concept expands to include horticulture, agriculture and cultivated ecosystems.  My life revolves around earth, seeds, plants and growing living organisms, not just the vegetation but the soil microbes as well.  I prefix any of these other principles with an overlay of ecology and biology.

Gardening is...
Gardening is Civil, says Thoreau, and I tend to agree.  
In a narrow sense, our gardens are often places of civil refinement: groomed and manicured, fixed by custom, and even far less formal green spaces are generally at least somewhat tamed or channeled.  The world of gardening is often one of civil, polite courtesy.

In a much broader approach to Thoreau's words, the concept of gardening being a civil pastime grows out of the idea of Civic Virtue - the development of habits showing high moral standards or being of use and importance to the wider community.  Our civil relationships with our neighbours and community members hinge not just upon our civil rights to political and social freedom and equality but also our civil responsibilities to maintain, support and give back to our civic society.

I've been saddened by the lack of civility I've encountered in the rest of life.
I try to sustain a polite refinement and the development of moral habits through gardening.  

I've also been disappointed by a general sense of civic disengagement, a trend I fear might be growing.  
I want to support my neighbourhood, community and society by advocating for accessible green spaces, residential / urban agriculture and ecological civility.  

Don't worry though  ;)  as you'll see below I don't necessarily adhere to the usual constraints of society and culture to define what's considered courteous and polite!

Gardening is...
Gardening is Social, says Thoreau, and I think this can be true...  but not always (so keep reading below).
The act of gardening is an activity well suited to companionship.  From orchid societies to garden parties or sitting in the backyard at home; plants are the focus, the backdrop or the cornerstone to a huge range of social functions.  We gather and play in shared green spaces.  We work together in fields and greenhouses.  Even our indoor commons, from malls to offices, are slowly being cultivated.

I love to entertain, to host, to cook and to bring together my friends and family.  
I try to focus more on incorporating gardening, horticulture and even agriculture into my social life.  

Gardening wants...
Gardening wants Vigor, says Thoreau, and I think this is an idea we've lost sight of.
Vigour (I'm Canadian, I spell it with a "u" thank you) means physical strength, good health, energy, effort, enthusiasm, even liveliness.  Our entire ecosystem from the seeds, to the soil, to the plants themselves is losing vigour.  Our gardens have become unhealthy and as a result, so have we.  We need strong, vital seeds that produce healthy plants, full of nutrition.  We need green spaces that draw us to exercise with enthusiasm.    We need beautiful, lively flowers to brighten our landscapes and lush green plants to filter the air.

I strive to learn, educate and encourage the use of strong seeds, and the cultivation of healthy soil.
I try to produce plants that grow with a vitality that continues to spread, be it physically or spiritually.

Gardening wants...
Gardening wants Freedom, says Thoreau, and so do I.

Our seeds, our gardens, our fields and greenhouses need to be free (not necessarily monetarily).
Our plants should no longer be restricted, confined or imprisoned; not be physically obstructed or fixed.  They should be able to move easily, able to grow as they wish, not constrained under our explicit controls.  We need the freedom and self-determination to both grow and communicate about growing in whatever manner we wish, without being subjugated to undesired forces.

I advocate for the inclusion of agriculture and greenspace into the notion of civil liberty.
I try for gardens that are socially free, of both societal expectations and normal conventions of style or form.
I am going to write, freely.

Gardening wants to be like the...
Gardening wants the vigor and freedom of the forest, says Thoreau, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Our civil gardens were once wild, natural forests -- large uncultivated regions, covered chiefly with trees and undergrowth in a natural state, uninhabited, uncultivated, not domesticated.  Our gardens should be derived from nature, rather than being fixed by custom or law, trained by humans or human creations.  We need to return our gardens to the manner they existed in before the development of society.  We need to return our plants and seeds to a state unaffected by human intervention.

I like to grow in dense masses of vertical or tangled objects, lacking discipline or restraint.
I try to save seed, grow gardens, cultivate fields, open parks to their innate, essential features, their natural character and quality.

Gardening wants for the...
Gardening wants the vigor and freedom of the OUTLAW, says Thoreau, and that's where I see myself.

When I say outlaw, I don't necessarily mean criminal, more outlier or oddity.  We need to learn to live beyond or detached from the main systems of our society, be it physically living outside the civil grid or existing away from the constraints of a social group.  We need to oppose "law-and-order" notions of conformity and authority when bio/eco-logical civil liberties are at stake.  We need more gardening outlaws, to save seeds from biotech companies, to plant gardens instead of lawns, to make green spaces an integral part of our societal fabric and community lives, to grow vigorously and freely, to demonstrate civil disobedience in the form of front yard agriculture and back yard chickens.

I am, an Outlaw@Home

No comments:

Post a Comment