Human nature suggests with some urgency the importance of putting seeds in the earth. We all might stop and give ear to this perennial call and also recognize that our times give it increased urgency. Today, to not-plant seeds should be a rare exception.
Aristotle pointed out that the work associated with making the earth fruitful is a natural work, precisely because it is doing what nature clearly intended. This is how we feed ourselves. Already here we have significant motivation, to the extent we are docile to how nature directs us, to undertake such work and let it bear its manifold fruits in us, within and without.
But what about the division of labor? Shouldn’t some be freed from the labor of producing food themselves? I say certainly, to some degree. We might note, however, a little history. Even in highly developed civilizations where the production of food was concentrated somewhat in certain areas and groups, at the same time agriculture was still widely practiced as a normal part of household life—even in urban settings!
Sure, economic and technological changes have made such widespread agricultural productivity seem unnecessary, and many have heralded this as a sign of ‘progress.’ Here, it seems to me, we must raise two questions.
1) While a few generations have lived almost exclusively on grocery store food produced remotely by others, is this truly a safe and sustainable model for human eating?
And, regardless of the answer to #1,
2) Is it better for truly human life, all things considered, that very few people produce our food and a large number of people have little or no experience of cultivating the earth?
I suggest that an honest consideration of current circumstances raises significant doubt concerning the first question. Even more to the point, current circumstances, among other things in the growing dominance of the artificial over the natural and the virtual over the real, point to the human importance of cultivating the earth. I think the second question alone yields a clarion call, to everyone who is reasonably able, to be intentional about beginning or expanding their cultivation of the earth.
This work need not, perhaps at first or even ever, make a significant contribution in quantity to what we eat. But the food will always carry a unique significance, as will the work of producing it.
We can begin with a container on the patio or a tiny corner of the yard. Many can find at least a five foot by five foot area in our lawn. Small is beautiful, and small is workable. Others can do more, including berries or fruit trees. The possibilities are many.
In the second century B.C. Cato the Elder wrote in his treatise On Agriculture: “The Paterfamilias should think a long time about building, but planting is a thing not to be thought about but done.” The point is not to work without reflection; the point is to get started. Here is something so obviously good and important that we dive in, and we just keep learning. And our work itself grows like a plant and bears fruits almost unimaginable in their goodness and their delight. ~ ~ ~
We warmly invite you to come to our homestead for our first LifeCraft Day at the Barn next month.
Today’s short Video highlights the urgency of GARDENING today:
Here is a whole series of my posts on Why Garden.
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.