August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Ecological communities are not as tightly linked as organisms, but neither are they simply collections of individuals. Rather, the community is a unique form of biological system in which the individuality of the parts (i.e., species and individuals) acts paradoxically to bind the system together.” –David Perry, Forest Ecosystems
A lot can be said about individuality. Many would agree that it is our own individuality, the things that define us, that make us able to perform better actions for the whole. Even among the four interns, I have noticed it. We each bring different strengths, ideas, and structures. Sometimes it creates minor inconveniences, but with time and effort (particularly in patience), the results are better. But when individuality becomes a competition or a quest for solitude, it then becomes a problem. Because individuality is not about taking from others, but rather emphasizing what you have. It is not about separating or specializing. It is about using your own passion to ignite and inspire others passions. It is easy to run from the problems of the world, crying out “I hate people and just want to worry about me!” But the fact of the matter is this; other people aren’t going anywhere, and whether you like it or not, they affect your everyday life. So wouldn’t it be ideal to build a stronger foundation, a better foundation, with them?
Speaking of better foundations, consider the foundation we are living on now. Where did it come from? What ideas and beliefs was it built on? Clearly, the future was not deeply taken into account when its construction first began. Luckily, however, damages can be reversed. But what direction will we take? And will we now account for the future in a way that no one thought to before? I’ve learned, through constructing these campus gardens, that this is the most important thing to keep in mind. The future. For what are we doing it for if not for that?
In the text, Edible Forest Gardens, by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier, the two write of their vision for the future. Where suburbs become forest gardens, and humans have slowly begun the process of removing pesticides and other forms of pollution from their homes. In all honesty, the 600 words of flowery language and far fetched hopes brought me to tears. It’s a beautiful thought. But we’ll never get there if we keep our minds on what we want today. I plan to keep this in mind while I prepare for the rest of this internship, and the rest of my time here at WSCU. I want to be here to see our campus become and edible forest garden, but one that can sustain a college community, without taking anything but carbon dioxide.
August 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
It is a sad state of affairs when pressing topics such as the production and consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) hardly enter the periphery of national interest. Intense lobbying and political campaign funding executed by agri-giants like Monsanto and Con Agra has created a climate where gross food control and genetic enslavement proliferates without interference. I believe that systemic change and regulation would be effective in myriad environmental and social issues, including the re-localization of food sovereignty. However, I think that the eco-minded restructuring of national government will be hard pressed to gain momentum through the direction of this nation’s leaders. I sought salvation through the idea that national politicians were genuinely concerned about the health of our bodies, rather than twisted personal agendas. National democracy in the name of the health of the people, was simply swept aside when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former lawyer for Monsanto, cast one of the deciding votes in favor of the declaration of patenting genetics as a constitutional practice. This flagrant negligence of personal responsibility displays the increasing assimilation of the corporate and political world. As individuals and members of a local community, the burden of producing whole foods and sustainable food system now rests upon our shoulders. This has been a key motivating force for me as a campus ag intern at Western. Could four interns be integral in reigniting food sovereignty in the GunnisonValley? I think so; I think that four people in their youth can help to shape a food producing ecosystem, and display just how easy taking nourishment into your own hands really can be.
I think that the most radical form of creating longevity and sustainability in a contemporary community based food system is saving seed. This can create a strong sense of community, while reintroducing a historically rich bioregional cuisine. Furthermore, saving seed will allow a community to preserve indigenous seed from the inexorable spread of genetically modified seeds. This is the issue most important to me in regard to the local food movement. That is why I was delighted to learn some about saving seeds in Lance’s garden paradise in Hotchkiss Colorado.
I spent the first hour drooling over his garden filled with hearty vegetables and succulent berries and fruit. After I accepted that I was indeed still in reality, Lance and I harvested spelt grain together with traditional sickles. We wrapped the long stalks in burlap blankets and brought them to his straw bale seed shed. It took only two hours to harvest enough grain to feed a man for many months. The simplicity and ease of saving seed really amazed me. As I have learned through experience and edification gardening overall is fairly simple. It seems as though the notion of growing your own food is tied many complex processes, but in reality if you care for the land many human applications are detrimental to letting nature take its course. When you begin to follow the rhythm of natural life cycles that comes with organic and ecological gardens, as you can escape all the fetters and failings of human society. The more you synchronize yourself with a simple yet stimulating practice, one can live in the moment. For me, it is only for a short moment at a time, but I believe as we become swept in the verdant ebb and flow of natural food practice these moments will be extended. I experienced this as Lance and I threshed pea seed from their shells by stomping on the dried plants wrapped in burlap. Threshing was a practice of simplicity suffused with necessity. The methodic pounding of our feet soon become a melodic drumming echoing in the depths of the human experience. Is I entered this meditative state, was as though I felt nostalgia for experiences I had never obtained. Perhaps I had tapped into some ancestral memory bank, or maybe I just felt the happiness of sharing a sacred tradition with an elder. Regardless, I know that there is nourishment in saving seed beyond storing seeds as caloric investment. It is a practice that I must be studious within, so that I may impart it upon future generations.
August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
In a world that lives so separate from its food, it is easy to feel discouraged by progressive actions in the gardening movement. It is hard to invest everything in a belief that many people not only do not agree with, but in many cases, do not even want to hear about. However, I, like many others, believe it is necessary anyway. We are lucky to live in the place we do, as we are told so often, because we experience its majesty first hand, everyday.
The views seen driving on Ohio Creek Road alone can make a person feel something far beyond themselves; the bigger picture. Because really, that’s what all of this is about. Seeing outside of ourselves. Caring outside of ourselves. It sounds idealistic, and probably pretty corny, but realizing it, and then practicing it, is the only way we can achieve our ultimate goal. It is the only way we can protect what we are losing rapidly. It is the only way we will ever get people to hear us.