Maria Rodale recently wrote post on her Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen blog titled A Harvest of Healing.
It was a beautifully written post about how there is more to gardening than just the harvest. The harvest is great, but it’s not everything.
The one quote from the post that stuck with me was:
With gardening, we harvest more than food and flowers; we harvest health and healing.
She goes on to talk about the physical aspects that are involved in gardening – weeding, planting, carrying water, shoveling. So gardening helps to build you up physically and keeps your body moving.
On my balcony garden, I definitely don’t get that kind of exercise, but my fire escape garden did prove to be an adventure sport.
Though for me there are some physical aspects in involved in moving the containers and carrying the water.
Maria continues and talks about the food and nutritional value of gardening. Since you are growing your own food, you are fully aware of what’s going into it and can make those decisions.
She also talks about the spiritual aspect of it, which I think gets lost on a lot of people. I believe there is something to be said about putting your hands in soil, planting something, nurturing it and watching it grow. We become more connected with the earth and nature that way.
For me it started out as I just want to grow my own food, but it has turned into more than that. Especially on the spiritual tip. I feel more connected and appreciative for the food that I grow and for any food that I consume.
This is why that I say that I believe that people should grow just one vegetable and it will change the way they think.
What else is gardening to you?
I love gardening for so many reasons – One is accomplishment! watching something you nutured grow each day is wonderful, and adds to self esteem.. look what i did! I love that it can slow a day right down.. working on all the busy life things, you can stop and wander out to the garden, sit quietly, or start weeding, harvesting some peas. It puts perspective and time to “smell the tomatoes” in my day. It has been a great connector of people, like minds.. natural gardening people want to chat with other natural gardening people who of course have way more than that in common. we all love the earth, and strive to make it better. I feel I’m taking care of the earth and it’s resources more when I can garden.. using/making/maintaining compost, throwing seeded potatoes in the ground instead of waste. By not buying a huge bunch of herbs that might wilt, by cutting what i need fresh from the garden, i’m wasting less AND the food is healthier! By gardening and connnecting with our local dirt, we respect it more, we understand more what it takes to make and grow food, we can understand why and be okay with paying more at the farm market for stuff we couldn’t grow ourselves. Could go on and on, but think I’ll go smell the tomatoes instead!
Love it Leah! So true. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I too love gardening for so many reasons. Put simply: it is LIFE. Connecting to my food, to the magical process of life, to the myriad of life forms that are drawn to my garden and watching them interact and form astounding eco-systems right in my backyard is phenomenal!!
Putting hard work into something and watching it grow makes me appreciate more that fact that I am eating another life. It leaves me humbled, fascinated and deeply grateful.
We are by nature hunter gatherers and since we have lost that, we often go to the mall instead to shop and shop and shop to fulfill this need to “go out and get something”. And yet if we can remember our “roots” and our innate ability to connect with and assist other life forms to grow, that “hunger” in us to “go out and get” can be deeply satisfied in a much more healthy way.
We can go out to our backyards, our balcony containers or windowsill herbs and get our food. There is something astounding in watching things grow each day, before our eyes. I once lived in the tropics and subtropics of Australia and I grew some gourds one year, and I remember one exceedingly hot muggy day. I sat for about an hour beside a gourd plant to see if I could actually SEE it growing. And YES!!, I visibly watched a gourd tendril grow. It was about a quarter inch from a wire strand on my supporting trellis, and I ACTUALLY sat and could see the tendril getting closer and closer to the wire. I always knew plants were living beings, but to see it reaching, moving toward something to curl around it blew my mind. I NEVER forgot that. Ever.
You are doing amazing work here and in the world. I am so enjoying your tweets, and LOVE your palette herb garden. HOW AMAZING. You have out done yourself with your urban garden. GOOD FOR YOU!!
I told someone the other day, that if we had gardens in every school, from kindegarten through college it would change the world.
Thanks for inspiring me.
Thank you Robin. We have become so disconnected and have put value on other things. We should all step back and spend some time in the garden.
I whole-heartedly agree that everyone should grow something edible, even if all you have is a windowbox or buckets (nice going, by the way!). You never know if that first little thing that you grow could be the spark that changes your life. You may never become insanely immersed in it like my wife and I have (gardening a quarter acre now) but hopefully it will at least help you appreciate where food comes from more and you’ll get some satisfaction out of sustaining yourself instead of relying on the supermarket or even farmer’s markets all the time. The time that I spend in my garden is absolutely priceless to me, and I often encourage people to spend time alone there whenever possible – with no cell phone, IPod or anything. Just BE there, quietly, and nature reveals itself to you in ways that you can’t even imagine. There is no question that there is a spiritual reward in it as well as a physical one. At the age of 25, I had no garden, was working in the city eating a lot of fast food and getting very little exercise. Now at 40 I am in the best shape of my life and sometimes tell people that I do my own form of yoga while I am working in the garden – stretching as far as I can to reach that weed over there, or straddling a row of beans while harvesting. I do get some funny looks sometimes, especially since I don’t know any “real” yoga poses. The point is that you will find your own comfort zone there and whatever you make your gardening space into, it will be uniquely yours and you will learn about yourself and how you fit into the real world – the natural one.
One day I hope to have a larger garden, but for now my balcony will have to do. I’ll have to try your garden yoga then.
Gardening is a way to remind me of my connection with the universe; to remember to share (some birds are so greedy tho!); and just like interpersonal relationships, need a bit or water/pruning/redirection/weeding to be healthy.
Well, thanx for sharing an interesting and useful info………my mom like to do gardening……and I help her…its really enjoyable!!!!!!!!
Hahha. Yes it’s about sharing with the animals as well 😉
That’s very nice of you to help out with your mom. Good for you.
It’s a power like “The Force”, the strength that can come from growing your food.
Roger Doiron (Kitchen Gardeners International) summarized it well, stating that growing food is a form of power – power over food companies, power to “create energy”, power over reliance on oil and other fossil fuels, etc.
But too many people think that it’s just putting a seed in the ground and making sure to water it if it doesn’t rain.
It is correct that there are so many levels of involvement that comes with gardening and, more so, gardening for self-reliance and self-sufficiency – when your dinner depends on it. It really is a powerful “chi”-like feeling, how it can truly align your life.
In addition to the tangible benefits, I also like to promote the mental, emotional, even meta-physical results from consistent gardening. I have found that many of our customers and friends have seed amazing changes in their levels of depression, stress, even blood pressure, once they got into the natural rhythm of the earth and maintained their own gardens. And this isn’t restricted to the homestead farmers, it translates to the balcony container gardeners as well (even more so in some areas!).
Nice article – great material
So true. You summed it up pretty well.