Unexpected gardens, quiet and unassuming, are sprouting from patches and beds, abandoned lots and school yards across the country, and it seems a revolution is underway – a charming revolution, one that gives purpose to small children and the elderly and enriches the live of rich and poor alike. The sowing of a seed in dank and rich soil has become an act of celebration, defiance and of camaraderie.
And as we’ve been traveling, weaving our way along the west coast – in and out of cities, farms, beaches and forests – we’ve stumbled across evidence of this growing revolution where seeds replace bullets and that modest and unpretentious grey-haired lady down the street becomes a commander of the local resistance once she kneels at the garden bed and digs her gnarled fingers into the dark, wet soil of an organic bed. Students from grade school to university dig up lawns with wild abandon, seeking the pleasure of a meal tended from seed to plate.
Veterans of urban gardening toss clumps of dirt, jeweled by seeds, into once-abandoned lots, and harvest crab-apples and olives from decorative trees that line municipal streets, turning them into crab-apple jam and home-cured olives. Not-for-profit groups petition landowners and municipalities, asking for free reign to develop land for community gardens – some even raising hens for eggs and goats for milk. Yet, there’s little bits of celebration too: the restaurant that replaces its customary flowers with fresh herbs in the containers that decorate its entrance, or the café that stops placing cut flowers in vases on its tables and replaces them with tiny pots of edible pansies. Even libraries are getting involved, hosting summer talks on gardening and planting raised beds of Swiss chard and tomatoes as part of summer children’s programs.
Hotels and restaurants are secreting patches of herbs, edible flowers, fresh greens and vegetables by the kitchen – reducing their reliance on imported and long-traveled foods, thereby increasing the freshness of the foods they serve their guests while also decreasing costs. In reducing costs by growing some (or all) of their own fresh vegetables, herbs and berries, restaurants can then increase the amount of money they spend on other, typically more expensive foods like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, farm eggs, wildflower and orchard blossom honeys and good quality grass-fed milk and butter.
It’s a lovely revolution.
Taking Part in the Quiet Revolution
- Sow your seeds. Have you planted your garden, yet? Participated in a secret garden? Grab some organic seeds (see sources) and get started.
- Participate in renegade gardens. Whether they’re tucked into an abandoned lot, at your community’s school or in your library’s window box, take part. Lend a bit of knowledge if you’ve some to share, or ask questions.
- Support supportive businesses. Go out of your way to dine at restaurants with gardens and who use truly fresh ingredients. And if they don’t grow their own or purchase local ingredients, ask them why not? When consumer demand grows for these foods, so will the supply. Seeds of Change recently gave away 100 million seeds to help spur the organic gardening movement, and they’ll be giving some away to Nourished Kitchen readers soon. You can also follow them on twitter or facebook. Make sure to stay subscribed to keep up to date on the next giveaway.
- Participate in the broader community. Hook up with gardeners local to your area, share your love of gardening via social networking groups, posting pictures to facebook as your seeds sprout and grow to harvest. You can even share them with a broader community via a virtual garden.