Spring is in the air. This morning the sun is out, the birds are singing and sadly the snow is melting. Over the next few days the temperature is predicted to soar to double digits. Wow! Winter never really established itself this year. Even though we have had a lot of snow, the first big fall in November came before the ground had a chance to freeze, so it couldn’t last. Well an early spring does have its endearing qualities. All of which brings me back to the garden.
A number of people have asked what they can do as individuals to help the planet. Last week I talked about carrying reusable bags or bins whenever we shop and turning off the lights during earth hour. Today I want to sing the praises of eating locally grown food. In simplest terms, locally grown food is fresher, tastier, easier on the environment, supports our producer neighbours, helps the local economy and brings us together as a community. That’s a lot of spin off one little concept, and that’s what makes a community gardens network so appealing for our city.
Growing my own fruit, vegetables and flowers has become a joyous activity in my life. We were made for working together in the dirt, not for sitting alone in cubicles, detached from the world. The very act of handling warm, moist earth creates positive energies both within and around a person. What’s more you get to eat and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Gardening renews the soul. For that reason alone it tops my list of benefits to be derived from a community gardens network.
Gardening can bring us together as a community. We don’t all have to grow the same things or plant in the same allotment spaces, we just need to share what we love doing ; and you know what, the more we share, the more we have. Since I started writing about gardens a lot of people have shared their gardening experiences with me. We have had long, pleasant conversations about an activity that we love. In a city that is in danger of losing its soul to self serving parochialism, such opportunities to expand friendships across neighbourhoods hold a promise of community that needs to be embraced.
Caring communities support one another, not out of self interest, but out of a genuine shared reality that comes from the land itself. Water flowing south from Balsom Lake eventually merges with water flowing from Lake Scugog that winds its way north into Sturgeon Lake. We share one watershed and, for all its diversity, one farming community. Fresh organic and free range produce, grown in our city, finds a warmer welcome in Toronto than it does here. We happily buy cheaper, mass produced items carrying the burden of thousands of kilometers of carbon footprint. Supporting our local farm operations carries positive impacts for our farm neighbours, our local economy, the Kawartha Lakes region and the world in its fight against climate change.
So, here it goes; plant a garden. It’s fun; it feels good; it serves you, your family and your community. If you don’t have space of your own join the community gardens. Even if you already have your own garden, there are still lots of perks to joining the gardens network. If you don’t have time to grow your own food, then buy locally. Through the community gardens we can connect you with local producers so you don’t even need to go searching. If you want to come out to a community gardens meeting just to check it out, our next one is February 27 at 7 P.M. at The Health Unit in Lindsay. If you want to know more about community gardens the newsletter that I am preparing will be on the Toward Balance web site within a few days. The web information is listed each week with my column. To help us all to grow together, you just need to do it.
There it is. Breaking the inertia created by the way in which we live is always the toughest step. If we put reusable bags or bins in the car with intent to use them; if we turn off our lights during earth hour on March 29 with intent to use less electricity; if we garden or shop with intent to use more locally grown food or to beautify the world then small gestures become personal commitments. And personal commitments become the foundation of renewed hope. That, after all, is the nature of spring isn’t it, hope, born again in the earth as its protective blanket of snow melts into its very being. See you next time.