Barbara Kingsolver’s describes her marvellously productive garden in her memoir of a gardening year, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
We spent the July 4th weekend applying rock lime to the beans and eggplants to discourage beetles, and tying up the waist-high tomato vines to four-foot cages and stakes.
In February, each of these plants had been a seed the size of this o.
In Mary, we’d set them into the ground as seedlings smaller than my hand.
In another month, they would be taller than me, doubled back and pouring like Niagara over their cages, loaded down with fifty or more pounds of ripening fruit per plant.
This is why we do it all again every year. It’s the visible daily growth, the marvellous and unaccountable accumulation of biomass that makes for the hallelujah of a July garden.
Fuelled only by the stuff they drink from air and earth, the bush beans full out their rows, the okra booms, the corn stretches eagerly toward the sky like a toddler reaching up to put on a shirt.
Cucumber and melon plants begin their lives with suburban reserve, posted discreetly apart from one another like houses in a new subdivision, but under summer’s heat they sprawl from their foundations into disreputable leafy communes.
The days of plenty suddenly fell upon us.”|
What an amazing description of abundance, fuelled by…nothing really, seed, soil, water, air…
Can anyone read this and doubt we live in an abundant universe, a benevolent universe blessed by God?
* * *
And yet, eighteen people die of starvation each minute, eighteen while I have written and you have read this.
Large-scale systemic failures, war and corruption, environmental plunder, degradation and collapse all play a role in this.
* * *
Our friends who worked with Heidi Baker described the widespread hunger in Mozambique.
Yet Mozambique, according to my research has rich and extensive natural resources, five rivers, heavy rainfall.
My friends described going through the bush with trucks of food, and people fighting like wolves for the food.
Would it not have been more effective to also distribute seeds?
Seeds: would that solve the problem of hunger on the micro-level, despite systemic problems of distribution, environmental degradation and global warming?
“Whoever could make two ears of corn grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together,” Jonathan Swift wrote in Gulliver’s Travels.
I do believe it.
I believe with Heidi Baker that there is always enough, both for the reasons she gives, and because of the abundance God has encoded in seeds: dozens of tomatoes, thousands of apples over generations from a single seed.
Teaching people to grow vegetables: on a micro-level, could this be a simple, overlooked solution to world hunger?