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    Earth Week Celebrates our Efforts to Grow our Own Food

    One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener’s own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.  Wendell Berry

    Last Saturday our region celebrated its first ‘Seedy Saturday’; it was a great success. People of all ages showed up to look at and swap a variety of seedlings, trade or buy some seeds. Collingwood’s Katimavik youth also came to the Kimberley General Store, where the event was held. This celebration of seed diversity was the perfect way to get Earth Week soaring with meaningful participation. After asking two farmers what they considered to be the perfect tomato, I came away with their prized ‘Black Zebra’, ‘Green Zebra’ and ‘Hubert’s Pink’. In return they received my rare ‘Sunberry’ that tastes like a blueberry and Italian large leaf organic basil seedlings.

    2010 is the International Year for Biodiversity and April 22nd the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, so making our gardens glorious and meeting fellow tillers of the soil is part of the festivities. More than ever, intergenerational cooperation is vital if humanity is to find common ground that links us to a passion for Nature. Perhaps gardening is the answer. Across Canada and the U.S. gardens are becoming the epicentre for a new engagement in community life. Gardening and a renewed respect for the farmer’s role in a stable and self-reliant community is once more gaining widespread acceptance as one way to sustain an independent and thriving local area. There are many reasons for this happening. The rise in food transportation costs have enforced the view that the globalization of our food is no longer tenable and food security can’t be left to multinationals to determine. As well, there is growing recognition that food prices throughout the world are linked to increased biofuel production at the expense of fertile agricultural lands. People want to take back the land and make it sacred once more. The Earth is not a commodity as we’ve been told.

    It is encouraging to watch so many people in their 20’s and 30’s take up gardening. They want to be in control of their food sources, and it’s wonderful to hear that many are putting up inexpensive greenhouses from reclaimed glass to kick-off their early spring season sowing of seeds. Without doubt these youthful gardeners are dedicated to growing organic foods. This is good news as we will have to reduce and eventually stop using fossil fuel fertilizers. Young gardeners are literally basking in the sun with the delight of caring for their locally grown food. Conversations can be heard as to when and where to grow heat demanding eggplants and peppers, growing broccoli rabe and the joy of tending and finally eating your own raspberries.

    It has been hotly debated as to when seeds should be sown this spring, owing to unpredictable and historically unseasonably hot and then cold weather we have experienced recently. Those who thought we’ve gained a month of warm weather to plant everything from potatoes to peas are now questioning the decision to plant in light of the mercurial climate conditions. Best of all, keeping up with the consumer driven Jones has now been superseded by pride in growing a better garlic or French lettuce patch. Status and wealth can be found in the palm of your hand in the cool shape of a squash seed.

    Community gardens are now gaining wide acceptance. One program that Cornell University and the town of Ithaca helped start is called Garden Mosaics. It’s unique in that it focuses on “science education, youth and adult well-being, cultural understanding and sustainable communities and agriculture.” It has a place in our community as well, where all too often there is not enough interaction between elders, who can impart their love and knowledge of gardening and life, to budding enthusiastic youth.

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