Common Ground

Common ground. It’s a phrase that you hear a lot lately.  We seem to be so divided. Where is that common ground we all seek? I think I’ve found it in the garden.

Our motto at GrowSocial is “Food connects us all”.   Go to a gathering of gardeners and you’ll find all walks of life, religions, political views and ages. Check out social media groups dedicated to food growing, and you’ll see people posting proudly everything from the fattest tomato to the smallest pepper. You’ll see them excitedly sharing their successes and abjectly dissecting the cause of the garden fails.  

I have witnessed people who declared themselves to have “black thumbs” become garden addicts in the space of one growing season. I have seen wonder on the faces of people who had never before eaten food fresh from the plant and I have watched people achieve vibrant wellness from eating what Mother Earth has to offer.  Gardens bring us together in so many ways. 

Wherever you are on the planet, you will find food as the centerpiece of celebration, mourning, and community gatherings.  You can bring gardeners from all over the world into one room and show them a plant ready for harvest and they may all want to prepare it a different way, but they will all compliment the fruit of the plant, and be grateful for the harvest.

When Mother Earth grows a garden, diversity is key to success. There are nearly 400,000 different types of plants that we know of, and nature is always combing, adapting and evolving. In gardens that humans tend, our objective is to give each plant the space, sun, shade, water and resources it needs to thrive. Some plants need to be trimmed; others need a little extra care to make them thrive. Some of my strongest plants were ones that need a little extra TLC in the beginning but soon got strong. 

In nature, diversity ensures survival for the whole. Each plant has a place and a purpose.  Our gardens are a wonder of colors. How sad would it be if flowers only came in pink, or red, or purple? They come in all colors and shapes and sizes and that is what makes a bouquet beautiful. 

Plants need each other, and so do humans. When we come together on common ground, it’s easier to be comfortable with each other when we do walk off the common ground. When you have cultivated mutual respect and learned that you love some of the same things, harsh words don’t come easy. 

In permaculture, we have the concept of the edges. Edges are where two ecosystems overlap, and they are places of great opportunity as the two ecosystems find harmony. Neither is trying to convince the other that their ecosystem is better.  The tree isn’t trying to convince the fern to be a tree, or that trees are better. The tree knows that the fern is covering the bare soil below it and the fern knows the tree is providing the shade that it needs. 

Mutualisms- mutually beneficial relationships- are everywhere in nature.  The “dog eat dog” world doesn’t exist in nature and the more we learn about how nature works the more we see a complex and beautiful interdependence in all things. 

It is said that the opposite of addiction is connection. What if we found our way to recognizing our need for  healthy interdependence? I think it’s already happening, and we are further along than you might think. Our small, local gardening group has gone from around 3k to over 10k in a very short while.  If you drive around your area, you’re likely to see less lawns and more gardens.  Food connects us all. 

Not convinced? Meet me in the garden. 

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