It’s difficult to decipher “when” I “started” living “this way”. Society (for a while, myself included) tends to view folks like me as an anomaly. They view me as a specimen of sorts. The honest truth is, I never chose to take some sort of leap of faith, or drastic detour from the status quo, and seek out some kind of justified, or noble way to live. I didn’t wake up one day and declare, “the world’s messed up, and this is what I shall do”.
I was born with an unquenchable curiosity, for all things, big and small, and an indescribable love for plants. I loved smelling, touching, tasting and gazing at plants. As a child, plants (and video games of course) were everything to me. Plants were my world. Initially, my love for plants was not encouraged, by family, or aquantances. My family, and what few peers would associate with an odd ball like me, seemed to view this obsession with dismay and concern. My parents tried to steer me in the direction of golf, baseball, taekwondo, and fishing…but my love for plants was inextinguishable. My first obsession was moss, then I veered into bonsai, had a brief infatuation with orchids, built some ponds, and eventually, in my teens, found vegetable gardening. I never chose to live this way, instead, it’s the only way I know. I can’t be any other way. Even if gardening was the most vile pursuit in the world, I would still cultivate this passion.
College was the first place I ever heard the term “local food”. How this concept slipped below my radar for so long is a puzzle. It seems like such a no brainer. Of course producing your most basic resources right where you stand is superior to the fossil fueled IV drip of industry…I just didn’t see it till college. For the first time in my life, I realized my obsession was more than just a hobby. I came to see gardening as one key ingredient to a holistic society. Local agriculture was one answer to to the ills of industry and consumerism. Gardening unto itself will not save the world. But it sure makes society a lot more hospitable. To meet our needs locally, reduces fossil fuel dependence, softens the hierarchy between the rich and poor, empowers communities, helps to preserve ecology, slows climate change, and last but not least, helps instill meaning into a potentially meaningless and directionless world; thus, gardening is not just good for the world, it’s good for the individual.
In gardening, I can meet myself. I find solitude in the soil and water. My mind and sense of self worth grow with every new shoot, root and bud. I believe I speak for many gardeners when I say, gardening is not about the cultivation of food, but the development of a more complete and satisfied human being.
I live this way because, I cannot truly live, any other way.