Garden, then save the planet

Yesterday afternoon, I clicked on the link to Michael Pollan’s excellent New York Times Magazine piece on all the good things that arise from gardening—his focus is on climate change and the behavioral shift everyone must undergo to make any kind of difference in the daunting problem, but he makes the eloquent case about why we ought to all grow some of our own food. A few minutes later, an email came in from a friend in California, sending the article my way.

It’s a piece worth sharing, and not just because Michael Pollan is my hero. I wish everyone thought this way, and I realize that I’m speaking as someone who came pretty late to the gardening party. Heirloom Tomatoes (Yeah, I grew \'em myself)But now that I’ve lived a life where I can just run out to the yard and clip some herbs to throw in whatever meal I’m cooking up, there’s no going back, and I want everyone to experience the same thing. It really doesn’t matter whether you get your food at your local superstore or at a co-op or even the farmer’s market (although if you’re not going to grow it yourself, farmer’s market up, people, ’cause it’s good stuff, too)—the best, healthiest, most delicious, most amazing food is always going to be what you grew yourself.

For me, the connection Pollan draws to climate change is a worthy one, but the other connections he talks about—to the miracle of how something starts as a speck-like seed and becomes edible just with the addition of some sun and air and dirt and water, to the neighbors around you, to the land itself—are the ones that I value the most highly.

That being said, I fully agree with Pollan. If you make those connections, the larger one—the willingness to make changes that will benefit the climate without feeling like you’re yelling into some sort of howling void—will come easier, too.

UPDATE: You can also learn more about what the company I work for is doing on this front in my post re: the Pollan article for The GeoVoices blog.

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12 Responses to “Garden, then save the planet”


  1. 1 Lotus April 21, 2008 at 6:12 am

    It’s so weird that it’s taken me this long to start my own garden. My mom always had one and it just seemed like a lot of work. But I agree with your idea that the miracle of growing food is so rewarding. I;m just amazed when something fruits; like magic.

  2. 2 Libby April 21, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Thanks for the link. I was so busy outside this weekend that I likely would have missed the article.

    I grew up around gardens and eating summer meals that were 100% from our small patch. My grandma had a huge garden and was “organic” before it was hip (or even a word). There was always a compost bucket next to the sink.

    I’m so happy to finally have a lawn that I can dig up, and call on my grandmother’s expertise. Even if I don’t have success, I’m lucky to be surrounded by fabulous farmer’s markets.

  3. 3 Jean Ann April 21, 2008 at 8:19 am

    I completely agree…I love being able to harvest my own veggies…and I have a partnership with a local restaurant and they purchase my veggies. Customers can go to our blogs and learn about the produce they are eating…

  4. 4 Diatryma April 21, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    I think there’s another reason to garden. In the dreary in-between time, when there’s no more winter cope left and all the spring cope is underground*, gardening can force spring cope up. I have to remember to start seeds in the kitchen in early March next year– not all of them, just the ones that take a while. That’s spring cope right there. Plants force us to notice or make us ready to notice when other plants are waking up from the winter. All my plant-type friends started planning gardens when the snow melted to mud and sand. It was what kept us sane.

    *I can cope with winter because it’s bright and has skiing, and I feel tough walking to work in the cold. I really like spring because it has lovely weather and plants. When my brain has decided it’s spring but the outside is still mostly winter, I get really, really fragile– all the stuff that lets me cope with winter is gone, and none of what makes spring good is here yet.

  5. 5 inadvertentgardener April 22, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Lotus, isn’t it totally magical? Even when I obsessively watch everything going from flower to fruit, it’s ridiculous — I cannot figure out how that could possibly be!

    Libby, those farmer’s markets are such a great back-up. Ours here opens very soon, and I can’t wait. So glad you’re carrying on your grandmother’s legacy!

    Jean Ann, wow — that’s really great about the partnership with the restaurant. How long have you had that in place?

    Diatryma, thanks for your thoughtful comment — as you can probably tell from all my whining over the winter, I could have used a little spring cope. I didn’t actually start any seeds indoors this year, but one of these years, when I have the appropriate window in which to do it, I’m going to make that happen.

  6. 6 Robin at Bumblebee April 22, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    I’m glad to have the link. I probably would have missed it! Thanks!

    Whether you come to the party late or early, the point is all are welcomed. I expect that my teenage son will drift away from the pleasures of the garden until he sows his wild oats of another sort. But given that he refuses to use dried herbs on his homemade pizzas and can find basil and oregano in the dark and that he wants a tomato/cucumber salad every night in the summertime, I expect he’ll plant his own garden one day.

    I think one of the greatest gifts we can give is the idea of what a garden can add to your life.

    Robin at Bumbebee

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener April 22, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Robin, your teenage son can find basil and oregano in the dark? He’s going to be quite a catch!

  8. 8 Amber April 26, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I think growing your own food is the coolest thing! I just started and I’m just in awe of it! =D

  9. 9 inadvertentgardener April 26, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Amber, glad you’re getting underway with it! It’s definitely rewarding and a lot of fun.

  10. 11 Teresa April 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I am glad I started gardening about 25 years ago, I enjoy it, gives peace and I can relax, forget my problems, I am happy that I am contributing in saving the planet.


  1. 1 Taking Small Actions to Stem the Tide of Climate Change « Geovoices: A Geonetric blog Trackback on April 21, 2008 at 1:22 pm

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