We returned to Grand Forks to finish packing and say "Goodbye" (or rather "Hello" to a new relationship) to many treasured ones. The big move day was May 12. We arrived on the Farm late in the evening after a very long drive with our 3 loaded vehicles in caravan.
That next day on May 13, Richard's brother Hollis arrived with his Tractor to get the Garden ready. We had seeds in tow and we began to plant. "We couldn't waste time," Richard says in looking back on that very busy time. Our 17,000 pounds of stuff arrived via semi on May 15. It truly has been a whirlwind ever since.
This Garden Season 2010 marks our 4th here. Over Dinner this evening, Richard, Melanie and I reflected on "surprises" in Gardening over these past 3 years. These are our surprises:
- Our Food we have grown right here tastes so good in comparison with Store Bought. It even looks better. It looks vibrant and alive.
- We have been amazed by all the Bugs and Weeds in the Garden, especially those that can do great damage, almost before you notice anything. For many, we had no idea they even existed (like Flea Beetles).
- As a Gardener, one must be ever alert. That means watching closely all stages of growing.
- Gardening is a lot of work. We knew that before. We know it now more than we did before.
- Gardening is deeply fulfilling on a level that cannot be explained. We get to watch Plants grow that will nourish us. We get to watch Birds and Butterflies dance in our Garden. We get to feel Sun on our backs.
- It sounds silly, but for a lot of Foods, I didn't even know that you could grow them. I thought I had to buy them in the Store. I had no clue as to what they would look like in all stages of their growing.
- To Garden is to enter into a place of great Complexity.
- When we came here, I thought we knew a lot. But after that 1st gardening season, what we knew was reduced to about 3 basic questions.
- We continue to be amazed by how little that we know. We keep learning. As we learn more, we are confronted with more questions.
- We are drawn to eat Whole Foods. We shy away from Foods which have additives, particularly those we cannot pronounce. We use "what would Grandma do?" as our mantra. If she would not recognize it as Food, we don't either.
- Soil is the basis for Life. Our Culture has taken from the Soil for a very long time without giving back. Soil which has less vitality produces Food which has less vitality. That Food is the basis for our Lives. Gardeners must 1st and foremost attend to the Soil.
- Gardening weaves Family back together. We are growing some of the same Plants that our Ancestors grew. We are using them as a basis for Recipes which came from those previous Generations. We are more in the presence of Family Story.
- Gardening starts early. Even now, with all the Snow on the Ground and the fact that it is February, we have planted Seeds for Transplants into the Garden.
- Melanie began this little musing by saying she didn't want to sound condescending. We are surprised by how much the Grandmothers and Grandfathers who tended the Soil and grew their own Food knew. We should have listened more closely. Why did we choose to let that knowledge drop? It is a puzzle our Culture should examine closely. What they knew is the basis for Life.
- While much of Modern Life encourages Competition and Distance, Gardening encourages Community. I am amazed at the Community that has emerged of like Minds and Hearts. We throw out our Questions and often Answers or Suggestions will return. It is deeply fulfilling to care enough about another that you can assist in providing information which will feeds them and sustains their Lives.
- There are infinite ways to Garden.
- Gardening is connection with the Divine.
- We are puzzled at the varieties that were grown earlier that are no longer available. Yet we celebrate those Old Varieties which are available. And we dance for joy at the movement to preserve Heirlooms which is unfolding in our times.
- The fact that the Varieties grown have "shrunk" is frightening. Many are grown simply because they are easily transportable, can be grown on large acreages, and they look good. Nature teaches us that diversity is important.
- Why aren't People concerned? Why don't they see an urgency to resolve the mess we have gotten ourselves into?
- I thought that I would pick out Seeds and Plants in the Gardening Catalogues and that is exactly what I would get. That model sounds just like a Supermarket where you see a fairly constant array of produce. Gardening isn't like that. Each year brings losses and gains.
- We eat seasonally from what is available. And we feel better.
- We don't like to purchase Foods at the Grocery Store that we would normally grow and have run out. It just doesn't feel right. Ick.
- Gardening requires a sophisticated knowledge that has been almost dropped over the last 50 years. Why would we ever want to do that?
- We buy or trade from Local Farmers. That feels good on many levels, including building a web of Community all around.
- And I cannot forget our Animal Companions in the Garden. Chickens scratch, eat and poop. They are Nature's Tillers, Insect Controllers, and Fertilizers. Rolf's Cows contribute Aged Cow Compost. Those Birds in the Garden eat Bugs. We are all in this together.
- It is true that we knew some of this before. Entering our 4th Gardening Season on this Little Farm, I can say that what we know has gone deeper and become more intimate with the Earth.