Food Sustainability & Community Gardening

“The battle that we are waging to defend the biodiversity of the planet-from vegetable species to animal breeds-is a battle for civilization. The right to own land and seeds is a sacrosanct right for all the world’s vegetable growers. The pesticide-and genetically modified organism (GMO)-multi-nationals are implementing policies incompatible with the environment, that stress Mother Earth, that humble the food sovereignty of peoples, and that jeopardize the freedom of farmers and growers” Carlo Petrini (originator of the concept of Slow Food)

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Many people who are interested in becoming healthier and living more of a holistic lifestyle begin to have greater discrimination in their food choices, often choosing to eat organic foods. However, the politics and factors around various organic labeling is often highly ambiguous. For example, in North America most certified organic produce is allowed to be sprayed with certain pesticides that are allowed. Of course, the specific pesticides and fertilizers are much safer than regular mechanical agriculture produce, which is literally saturated in extremely toxic chemicals, not to mention possibly being GE (genetically engineered) food.

“Globalized industrialized food is not cheap: it is too costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health. The Earth can no longer carry the burden of groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization of the climate. Farmers can no longer carry the burden of debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high costs of production. It is incapable of producing safe, culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food. And it is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water and energy. Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient.” Vandana Shiva

When we shop at large corporate stores like Wholefoods, we are purchasing produce that has been grown via large scale organic mechanical agriculture. In addition, all of this produce has been shipped to vast areas of the continent to be sold. I have found a large percent of the produce that I have purchased from Wholefoods has not tasted fresh or vital. Hence, the food that I purchase from the farmers market is fresh, nutrient dense, rich in flavor, and has contains almost no carbon footprint.

In addition, I have a community garden plot, with the City of Vancouver, which fosters a large city wide initiative of turning unused urban land masses into organic community gardens. The entire garden area is organic and each member is suppose to uphold this standard of gardening, through composting, soil integrity, and only using organic fertilizers. Thus, I have a small plot that is around sixteen feet by ten feet wide. I only use half the space to grow vegetables, as the other half was not constructed to allow enough soil to be laid down. Therefore, on my small growing area I usually grow a combination of flowers, a multitude of greens for salads, some herbs, and one root vegetable. This year my garden consists of all organic seeds: cilantro, endives, yellow beets, arugula, kale, mustard greens, and two other greens that came in a green combo package. I also planted two rows of mixed organic flowers.

I find that being able to grow even a small portion of your own food significantly assists in the quality control of the food that you eat. Tending to the soil to create a fertile ground for your seeds is the kind of work that is very satisfying to me. In addition, to planting the seeds and watching your food start to grow is even more wonderful. I do all of my gardening in a very quiet and focused manner. I chant my mantra silently through all of my actions, yet I also feel love and appreciation for the plants growing in my garden. Perhaps, this sounds a little ‘new age’, yet it is actually not. My own mother has been organic gardening over 40 years, since before I was born. Throughout my childhood I learned the relationship of interacting with your garden like it is a living entity; which it is.

The one thing that I noticed, through gardening in a holistic manner of respecting your plants, sharing energetically with them, and acknowledging that they are a living vibrant entity; its amazing how healthy and abundant the garden will grow. There are numerous examples of this type of energy gardening, one of the most famous examples is Findhorn in Scotland, also known for growing gigantic vegetables, produced in close cooperation with nature spirits (devas). In ancient India, traditional planting was conducted as a worship to the Divine Mother, as the entire earth and all of the natural world was not seen as separate from the Divine.

“New seeds are first worshipped, and only then are they planted. New crops are worshipped before being consumed. Festivals held before sowing seeds as well as harvest festivals, celebrated in the fields, symbolize people’s intimacy with nature. For the farmer, the field is the mother; worshipping the field is a sign of gratitude towards the earth, as mother, feeds the millions of life forms that are her children.” Vandana Shiva

To have the opportunity to connect with the earth and plant a portion of my own food complements my holistic paradigm of living. However, to have a space to grow not only food items but also flowers and herbs is a wonderful adjunct to my own spiritual practice. I try to live in such a way that the essence of my inner practice is utilized in all areas of my life, as a flowing force of going about one’s daily activities with grace, awareness, and sharing the essence of mantra and love.  

Copyright © All Rights Reserved 2013

 

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