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04 December, 2008

"Community Garden"


In the Learning Garden, we try to stay focused on building community. Evidently, according to the news I hear, we will all have the opportunity to face some unprecedented challenges over the coming years. No matter what we have to face, if we can face it as a community, there is a lot of reason to hope. If we will continue to persist to apply old solutions and try to maintain the old individualistic American "gunslinger" mentality ("I can do it myself") tough times only get tougher because no individual is smarter than a group.

What will get us through - not only 'get us through,' but provide the consummate vehicle - is community; sharing ideas, and reaching consensus. Most of us felt a new huge sense of community when we learned the results of our presidential election on November 5th. No matter how one voted, upon hearing the results, we all knew we were witness to history. In the half a century I’ve been alive, the only other times we have come together this way was after some disaster. Here was something we could rejoice about connecting us into a larger group.

Those who volunteer at The Learning Garden are committed to bringing that feeling into this Garden and making it permeate our vision of a community built on plants and sharing the healing and wealth of nature.

Yes, a garden such as our Garden, or any of the community gardens over the world, is about plants, but it doesn't end with plants. In fact, our Garden and others are more about the people who tend them. In that sense, we all grow so much more than plants: A Garden that depends on volunteers and community needs to remember that it is more about ‘growing’ people than plants. So many get involved in a community garden and think that growing food - just because you need food - should be the focus. My experience shows me such an approach is short-sighted.

This is the start of a change. We plant a row of carrots and weed the row, water it as needed and sooner or later get some carrots we can eat. But that is just a part of the woof and warp of this enterprise we call The Learning Garden. We also get to remember the high school students who come through the garden to grow their own carrots, as well as the ones that only get to look through the fence while they wait on the bus: knowing where food comes from cannot always be taken for granted now days. The gulf of missing knowledge about how to live in this world is writ large on some of them. “I don’t want to eat that carrot because it’s been in the dirt,” I heard one student say one day. It would be interesting to see what would happen to his diet if he could see the whole journey his Big Mac made before getting to be his lunch. While we are at it, I wonder where those French fries came from?

Who will grow our food? Where will it come from? Will we outsource it all to foreign countries? How will the cost of food change as the price of oil increases if we have to ship all our food from thousands of miles away? These are legitimate questions that will have to be answered in the very near future. I have my answer.

Here we have a Garden and a community. This world needs both.

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