What a day it is! February 1st, Imbolc, Lunar New Year, the first day of Black History Month, and a Dark Moon. All of these reasons to celebrate come from the fertile, creative, resilient ground of Darkness, Blackness, and Regeneration that I seek guidance from daily this time of year. I give thanks to the Moon, the Soil, and the Black leaders I learn from for teaching me about humility, peace, and liberation.
Working with seeds, rhythms and the natural cycles of this stunning Earth is what I do to cultivate hope, build community, and harvest connection with the living world. If you grow a garden that you LOVE you most likely feel a similar inspiration. But maybe you grow a garden that for some reason you Don't love. Or have tried to grow a few things in the past and found it challenging only to walk away! Or start off strong in the Spring but then the inspiration wanes and the weeds grow and by September you've given up. It's ok. Part of the rhythm and the cycle is that you get to try again, in new ways, every year. You take what you've learned from the past and bring it into the future vision that you are gestating right now.
As this is the time for visioning I have a few things I've learned over the years that have helped me create the kind of garden and farm that I LOVE. The kind that offers me the connection and peace that I crave. The kind that is about more than just me and my family but about community and sharing and friends. It's taken me years, decades even, to get here so I thought I might offer a few bits to those of you just starting out or yearning for something different this coming year.
These aren't the typical "Gardening Tips and Tricks" but rather are THREE suggestions for growing a garden that invites relationship and connection with all of life.
1) Grow things you LOVE in your garden/Don't grow things you think you SHOULD grow, DON'T eat, or actually HATE.
This may seem obvious but I have made this mistake so many times! I think I'll eat all of the zucchini from eight whole plants but when the time comes to harvest, I really only want about four zucchinis the entire Summer. We just don't eat them! Then I feel bad about myself for "wasting space" or not eating this 1/2 ton of fresh food I grew, and on an on. I don't want to feel bad about myself in the garden! So mark my words, I will only plant one zucchini plant this year and we will truly enjoy those first four fruits before I completely ignore the rest and they grow as huge as baseball bats and I feed them to the chickens.
The kind of garden I want to have is the kind that pulls me out of the house on a Saturday morning in my jammies and a cup of coffee with the beauty and buzzing and good smells. No agenda, just the curiosity of what has changed or grown or been eaten out there over night. The kind that I'll walk over to in my good clean shoes just to smell the sweet peas and pull a few small weeds because what I am really growing are the experiences and connection that I want to have each day.
So if you LOVE flowers- just plant flowers. No veggies- no guilt! And if you kind of like beets but wouldn't get out of bed to save them from the quack grass invasion? Don't bother! Make your garden the place you want to be full of the things you love.
2) Grow plants to harvest fruits, leaves, flowers and roots for other people and other animals in your community.
I have learned from experience that I will better tend areas of the garden when I know the harvest is a gift for someone else or some other being. I didn't make this up obviously as there are loads of smart folks writing books about how healing it can be to GIVE and low and behold I have found this to be true. A Giving garden brings joy and connection. Sunflowers for the insects and birds, tomatillos for your neighbor, or an ancestral bean that you grow for a family gathering. Anything you can think of to grow and give away in service of others will keep the inspiration high when you may want to side-eye the garden. For me it's as if I make a promise to someone or some being other than myself and therefor I am much more likely to keep it. Or like how you clean your house when you are having friends over for dinner but (if you are like me) rarely just for yourself. The same rule applies in the garden. Doing for others offers accountability and a special magic and planning that magic into your garden will keep you inspired to tend.
3) Save Seeds this season.
Ok, maybe you saw this one coming but really, saving seeds from your plants to grow again and give to your community can be a life changing experience. It has been for me. The invitation that plants provide to join them in the cycles of their lives is truly an honor. Saving seeds requires attention and intimacy, care and forethought. The rewards are deep. If you have never done it before, I'd suggest you start with one type of plant you plan to save seed from. Something you find beautiful and irresistible and is fairly easy for a new seed saver. Peas and Beans are a great start. Or flowers. Or anything! Just start. Any questions you have can most likely be answered by the internet or please email me and I might have some thoughts to share. The more we integrate ourselves into the cycles of the plants and living earth, the more power we have to live in right relationship with one another and all living beings. It's no small thing. In fact it can be the biggest thing we do.
I hope these three suggestions are helpful to you in your garden planning and visioning.
I plan to use this newsletter to share what's happening here on the farm with the plants, the seeds, and the life all around. I hope you find it useful. If you ever have big successes and wins to share with me please do! Or frustrations and questions? I'll respond! Let's link our efforts to grow more connection, abundance and justice so that we may be part of the big reimagining together. And let's grow gardens big and small full of things we LOVE so that we might feel the connection to something greater that we strive for.