Gardening can represent a lot of things. It’s a way of eating well, a way to practice presence in the moment, a hobby, a medicine, an experimental approach on life and it also represents an act of politics. Maybe you followed me in the beginning but not quite at the end… Let’s dig in to the subject!
In almost whatever country we live in today, we are touched by huge commercial interests dealing with our every day food. We are what we eat, and what we eat comes from the soil. To begin with, numerous studies have shown that the common supermarket food only contains about 20 % of the nutrition in the food that the generation of our grandparents consumed when they were young. It’s not only due to the fact that the food is processed once it has been harvested that contributes to this, but also that intense culture has removed the natural minerals from the soil, that the living organisms of the soil are strongly affected or eradicated by chemicals, and that vegetables are picked before being ripe to be stored for long periods prior to being consumed. As a result of this, more and more diseases with various symptoms that can be connected to poor nutrition are appearing today.
A very complex law that treats the farmers right to grow specific plant varieties and to produce seeds is today applied in the European Union. It has the practical consequence that our genetic banc of seeds, and many locally adapted varieties that actually makes out a cultural legacy, are on the verge of disappearing. Instead big seed companies are extending their market and developing more and more genetically modified seeds, or only offering the option of buying seeds that are pre-treated with pesticides for a “safer” germination.
Luckily, people are reacting against this outrageous deterioration of quality, something we can see on the almost explosive development of the organic market. It’s an important act by consumers that shows that we understand the importance of a balanced agriculture, for the sake of the earth and our health.
Furthermore, every gardener has a huge possibility to do an important political act by continuing to grow his or her own vegetables. By growing our own food we take the power back over what we eat. We do not rely on international laws concerning our dinner. We do not contribute to enrich the seed lobbies. We do not put money into a machinery that doesn’t suit us. We don’t get sick by the hidden bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals in the food, and we don’t need to buy isolated food supplements. Instead of being dependant,
we become self-contained.
And every single gardener also contributes to another important phenomena and political subject – lowering the greenhouse effect. Yes, on a planetary scale, every piece of land, every garden soil takes part in the carbon cycle. It is one of the fundamental parts of planetary health and YOU have the power to make a difference by simply building up a healthy soil with an increasing humus level. This is how it works…
There exists a certain amount of carbon molecules on the planet. Our issue today is that more and more of them are found in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The rest is either stored in the soil as humus, or in living creatures like plants, animals (on land and in the oceans) and humans. On the scale of the earth, we have over the past decades lost two thirds of our humus, due to extensive agriculture. That carbon is now in the atmosphere and contributes to the climate change we are seeing. In the same time, some scientists claim that an increase of only 1 % organic matter in our soils could seriously slow down or even stop global warming.
This means that every method that increases the forming of humus contributes to resolve this worldwide problem. By applying mulching (covering the uncultivated soil of the garden with, for example, straw), by regularly making and adding compost to our soil, and by practicing all methods that encourages the development of natural earth organisms we contribute to this cycle. By these simple acts we are actively a part of positive climate change.
So growing can be a lot of things besides the actual vegetables; growing health, growing knowledge about our own food, growing influence and growing political power among other things. Let’s all take action.