Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nurturing vs. Exploiting

"The more we exploit nature, the more our options are reduced, until we have only one: to fight for survival."
-Mo Udall

exploit: make full use of and derive benefit of
nurture: care for and encourage the growth or development of

Part of my journey has been to change my perspective of the world. One of the biggest things is trying to become less exploitative and more nurturing, not just as it relates to gardening, but in all aspects, especially in personal relationships. I could elaborate, but I think the following passage pretty clearly sums it all up. (If you don't know who Wendell Berry is yet, find out. And read his books.)

"The exploiter is a specialist, an expert; the nurturer is not. The standard of the exploiter is efficiency; the standard of the nurturer is care. The exploiter's goal is money, profit; the nurturer's goal is health-his land's health, his own, his family's, his community's, his country's. Whereas the exploiter asks of a piece of land only how much and how quickly it can be made to produce, the nurturer asks a question that is much more complex and difficult: What is its carrying capacity? (That is: How much can be taken from it without diminishing it? What can it produce dependably for an indefinite time?) The exploiter wishes to earn as much a possible by as little work as possible; the nurturer expects, certainly, to have a decent living from his work, but his characteristic wish is to work as well as possible. The competence of the exploiter is in organization; that of the nurturer in order-a human order, that is, that accommodates itself both to other order and to mystery. The exploiter typically serves an institution or organization; the nurturer serves land, household, community, place. The exploiter thinks in terms of numbers, quantities, "hard facts"; the nurturer in terms of character, condition, quality, kind."

-Wendell Berry, from The Unsettling of America

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Life

"A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race."
-Wendell Berry

The first sprouts of the year

There is just something amazing about gardening. You stick a tiny seed in some dirt, and in time, new life emerges. It's funny that you can get so much joy out of something you had so little to do with. You can maintain the soil over the winter, amend it in the spring, and add water after you've planted. But you have ZERO control over the plant actually coming out of the ground. No amount of scientific knowledge, research, or preparation can make something grow. It is completely out of your hands. There is a feeling of equal parts satisfaction and hopelessness as you gaze out over your planted garden. You can't help but feel fulfilled knowing how much time and work you have put in to ensure the best possible environment for your crops. But you also can't help feeling terrified knowing you have no influence over weather, animals, germination, or any other number of variables. There's a lesson to be learned in there somewhere. Not sure I'm smart enough to figure out what it is, though. I think I'll end now with something that really resonates with me as the sprouts are just starting to poke through the ground.

"However many years she lived, Mary always felt that 'she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow'."-Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Friday, March 20, 2015

And So It Begins

"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!"

-Sitting Bull

So I have a blog now. I'm not entirely sure what purpose I want this to serve. I am not a writer, lacking both the skill and desire to put my thoughts into written word. What I am, however, is excited about the journey I have been on for the past year. I hope to share more about that in future posts. For the most part, I just want to be able to share pictures and stories of the farm that I'm a part of. Right now we have over 300 seeds started indoors and have begun spreading manure over the majority of the garden. If the weather holds, plowing will happen Monday afternoon. Then the real fun begins.

Well, this is more than I had intended to write for an introduction already. I hope I have the persistence to keep this up. There are a lot of reasons that I am enjoying an agrarian lifestyle, but I will end with a couple of quotes that pretty well sum it up for me.

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul." -Alfred Austin

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -Albert Einstein