I am a firm believer that we create our world through our stories. As Joseph Campbell intuits: “myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation” (1). One of the myths that has informed our human world for some time now is the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
In this story we have literally been banished from the garden. For many of my years on this planet, growing up in central NJ, this was also true for me. Sure, my grandfather grew rhubarb and tomatoes, and my mom had a yearly crop of zinnias, but our food came from the local grocery store. Effectively, I lived banished from the garden. More, I thought nothing of it — so deep was The Fall’s hegemony.
Since 2006 however, my family has been working a kitchen garden, about 1/3 of an acre. Years of the hardest physical labor I’ve ever undertaken and the most delicious veggies I’ve ever eaten. As I daily engage with our garden, I marvel that we went along so readily with a cultural storyline that excluded us from this most magical of spaces.
For a garden is that place where humans and Nature come together to produce an amazing co-mingling of the wild and cultivated. It is the place where we can explore our symbiosis with the Community of Life. In the garden we remember that we are not on this planet alone. In the garden we remember our human value. And what God would refuse our participation in an enterprise for which we are most certainly needed? Man, the toolmaker, creator of the hoe, the plow, irrigation. Watcher of the stars, the moon, the seasons, weather patterns. Seed collector and cultivator of plant genetics.
So I am going to enjoy thinking of my work here as reclaiming Eden. Materializing Eden yearly in our back yard. For Eden isn’t a fixed location on a map, or a space lost to some far past transgression, but rather a place that emerges wherever humans agree to serve the green realm.
Okay, that’s all well and good. But it doesn’t answer the practical why. Why do we need to reclaim Eden? That’s simple: there’s food there.
Re-entering the Garden means I get to eat. Organic, wholesome, as local as it gets, fresh veggies for my family to eat. Further, beyond my direct energy investment, the purchase of an occasional seed, and Nature’s gifts of soil, water and sunshine, the food is also free.
And there’s the key. Because I can live without many of the comfortable trappings of my 21st Century life, but I can’t live without food. To grow your own food in concert with Nature is to regain a strong foothold on the path to personal liberty. Food is power and when I grow my own, I hold that power.
Dip into the wilds of your back yard with me in Gleanings from the Green Realm, a record of plant whisperings overheard while digging in the dirt.
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2011.
1. Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1949.