Put your hands in the soil every day.
This was my grandmothers advice. She was discussing with me how I should behave when I became a wife. I was being brought up to be a good wife. There was no discussion from the women in my family, about following my heart or whether I had some wonderful talent or even really having a job, I could start as a nurse or teacher if I must, but most of the discussion from my mother and grandmother was on how to run a house, how to cook, how to raise my children and how to be a good wife. And this was in the 1970’s.
However a lot of my grandmother’s advice does hold true. All my life I have put my hands in the soil and this has kept me grounded, literally as well as figuratively. It works.
Yesterday we discovered that a young family in a small town close to here, were all dead. Two adults and three children. All killed by the mother, she shot her partner, her three small children and then shot herself. I know you do not want to read this. I know my language is harsh. I am too terse maybe. Most of us do not even want to think about it. But Life is harsh. A lonely life in a small town, with no friends or family,( they had recently moved there) must be dreadfully hard. The town is about twenty minutes from here and I drove through it once. It is small and grey. The streets are empty. The curtains are closed. The children are bused out to schools elsewhere.
I did not know this woman or her family. But I wonder: if she had been putting her garden to bed for the winter, and watching the weather. If she had been deadheading and bringing in pots. If she had been sorting next years squash seeds and checking to see if they were dry enough for the children to bag and label. If she had a larder full of preserves. If she had to check her pumpkins for soft spots. And sort the good potatoes out. Would she have picked up a gun, loaded it and shot her own children. Even if she had been struggling with a mental illness and I can only assume she must have been. And I know how dreadful that struggle is. I do know. Would she have gone this far? Maybe. All I know is that your hands in the soil is the best way to mitigate that merciless loneliness. This I know too.
Phase two of the Farmy has been moved up. We need to bring the children and their families onto the Farmy. As well as cooking, we need to help the young people feed their families. We must try to find a way to break the isolation.
So, now that we are up and running, we want to create an environment for local families to come and work on the Farmy. Grow their own food, garden, raise their own beef and lamb or pork. Pat daisy. Play with the cats, and be chased about by Mia. Muck out the barn, mow, garden, prune, pick, cook. Just a few families, we will stay small. But imagine helping young families fill their freezers and jars with food that they have grown themselves. Teaching the kids to cook, preserve and run wild down the back. Giving the Mum’s a break on the verandah. But in a normal neighbourly way. An old fashioned way.
I read another beautifully crafted story this morning here and it tied in so completely with what I am so clumsily trying to say. I want to encourage other people on other properties to help people grow gardens. I want to encourage anyone with a backyard or a sunny deck or a windowsill to grow. Teach a kid to cook. Teach a kid to grow. Teach a kid to eat well. Teach a kid to eat well and grow while sitting in a tree.
So firstly, we need to help people get in contact with other like minded people, for example: bloggers who think, bloggers who eat good food, bloggers who grow good food, bloggers who take great shots of good food, Oh My that is YOU!
I have opened a FaceBook page. I need writers, photographers, cooks, eaters, consumers, shoppers, gobblers, happy people, knitters, readers, gigglers, gardeners, ponderers, poets, sad people, farmers, drinkers (oh that’s me) I need advisers. I want to repost all the good stuff. I want you to lean over my fence and share the seeds. I want us to be able to find each other. I want us to plant gardens in the spring.
Did you know that in New Zealand they are trying to pass a law so that people cannot grow, share or trade home grown food, i.e. cabbages, broccolli, corn, beans, lettuce, spinach, seeds, seedlings, even water, WATER!? what about a fish, or a roast, a cup of sugar, a pint of milk, the list goes on. It is true! They are trying to outlaw growing and sharing food. In fact they plan to have Food Safety Officers to enforce this. This is madness. Grow a garden! Start digging New Zealand! We will dig with you!
Because, if someone had leant over the fence and said to the woman in the little town not far from here, who they are burying this week, and whose name I do not know. If someone had leant over the fence and said, ‘Here are some tomato seeds, you can sow them next month, in the window, send over the kids I will show them how.’ Maybe, just maybe that would have given her breath enough to go on for another day or the breath to ask for help.
If this terribly sad woman had known that to survive she could put her hands in the soil every day. Even in a tiny pot of parsley on her windowsill. Maybe, just maybe things would have been different. And there would not be five funerals this week.
So, if you want to join my tiny revolution, to help everyone plant a vege garden and share the food and share the knowledge and SHARE THE FOOD!!. Test my Facebook link and see if I have set it up right. Press like and share the like. And lets support each other and find each other and get together and grow. It is a tiny revolution.
I think we can do this. I think we can. I really think we can. Do I sound like ‘ The Little Train that Could’? Can we change the world one garden at a time? Is it against the law to plant vegetables on the median strip!?