Farming is more than putting plow to furrow. It is a multitude of experiences, evaluations and decisions made over time.
The same is true for gardeners. Each garden, each plot, has its own micro environment and climate. Not only sun and rain, but wind, topography and history play a role.
This year a friend changed rented land for her community supported agriculture project and stories about her struggles are going around the local food community. The new soil hasn’t been worked for organic vegetables, and is recovering from row cropping. I believe — everyone is confident — she will persevere through the change. Yet it will be a setback in a business that operates on thin margins and more physical labor than mechanization. It’s when the going gets tough that farmers get going.
Over the last 23 years my Big Grove garden expanded from a single plot to six, and I’m looking at adding more. That doesn’t count the five fruit trees which have been a source of produce for a number of years. Yesterday the pear tree burst out in full bloom.
I mistakenly planted a locust tree in one of the garden plots. It has grow to maturity, providing shade for two plots at the same time the frequency and severity of drought has increased. Shade serves to protect cucumbers, herbs and greens from constant, intense sunlight in the absence of precipitation. It took me a while to realize what’s going on and leverage it. Now I couldn’t imaging growing without it.
There are a hundred small things like the benefits of a locust tree that converge in the plots of my garden. When I think of retirement — more often now than previously — I can’t imaging life far from a garden and the diverse intricacies of what sustains me and enables vegetables to grow.
My garden and I are the same warp and weft of life that sustains us all.