Can you tell where my assumptions with gardening lie already? I’ve never really been one for flower gardening, though i love to enjoy others’ efforts in that field. I do love vegetable gardening for many reasons. First, you get to eat stuff that grew from the ground, stuff that you nurtured. Second, you get to wear a cool (or uncool?) hat and play in the dirt. Third, you get to pretend to be a farmer.
This third reason has me thoroughly engaged these days. I’ve started on a journey called “Year of Wendell Berry”. (Let’s call it a book club. Let me also say a big thank you to Friend Thera for inviting me to the group.) Wendell has a lot to say about real farming, & i like to pretend that what he has to say applies to what i do. (This post’s title is lifted from his very wonderful & similarly titled essay “Does Community Have a Value?”. Please find it & read it.)
What i want to share with you, friends, is what he has to say about our relationship with nature. One of his gripes with modern society is that we assign value to nature (for the most part) based on the potential monetary value of what we can make from it. He applies this to modern farming as well. He advocates strongly for preserving wildness even among our cultivated fields; fencerows of bushes & brush & brambles, perfect for nesting & burrowing if we are willing to leave space for other creatures to live. He argues that preserving wildness in this way is a way of having a more harmonious relationship with nature, but also that it makes sense. For example, wildness in conjunction with agriculture can help preserve & improve soil fertility & combat soil erosion.
I’m realizing the great mental health value that keeping a garden has for me. When i spend time in it, even if i don’t do much work, i feel more at peace with myself & my surroundings. Taking a walk through the rows laden with beans, peas, greens, tomatoes, beets & (hopefully) potatoes & carrots, i feel satisfied with the work i have done & at the same time, amazed that this produce has come into existence. After all, i haven’t done most of the work that goes into the vegetables becoming vegetables; nature/God does that.
The other day as Heather & i surveyed the small piece of the universe that has been entrusted to us, we saw that the sunflowers, which we did not plant, had begun to develop their flower heads. & my goodness! They filled my heart with so much joy. So, i’m learning to appreciate the inedible, yet spiritually nutritive, aspects of our garden & the land around me.