Post 1: A Year in My Garden: The Personal is Political

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On September 30, 2016

Welcome to the newest series on the Planting Justice blog: A Gardener’s Revolution!  This year, I’ll be following one Planting Justice-installed garden (mine!) throughout the entire bounteous California year — fall to winter to spring to summer, and back to fall.  

  An aerial view of my garden, with chicken coop in the back, bee hive in the far right corner, greenhouses along the right hand side, and vegetables galore!

An aerial view of my garden, with chicken coop in the back, bee hive in the far right corner, greenhouses along the right hand side, and vegetables galore!

I hope this blog series will serve as both an inspiration and a resource for PJ clients and gardeners to discover simple and easy ways to grow more food and medicines, save money and time in your garden, and maintain a sustainable, productive, vibrant and healing space.  Stay tuned to get suggestions for season-appropriate garden tasks, and if you have specific questions or concerns that you would like to see covered in this series, please email me suggestions at nicole (at) plantingjustice (dot) org.

  Borage, lavender, calendula, chard, and so much more in the garden!

Borage, lavender, calendula, chard, and so much more in the garden!

This blog series is both personal and political.  Growing my own food and medicine, stewarding the earth, sharing with my neighbors and nourishing myself and my community began, for me, as a political act.  I wanted to separate myself from the industrial food system that thrives on the unjust and unsustainable exploitation of land and people.  Now, many years into this practice of connecting deeply with my food, gardening has become one of my most radical and spiritual daily acts.  It is not trivial the power that we build when we learn how to provide for our own basic needs independent of a corporate, capitalistic system built on profit and manipulation.  Being in the practice of growing, processing, cooking and preserving my own food and medicine requires me to slow down; working to counteract the logic of urgency and scarcity of time that capitalism manifests in me without my consent.  Working daily in my garden reconnects me to nature’s cycles of productivity and dormancy, helping me to better understand and honor my own emotional cycles of inspiration, retreat, and regeneration.  Caring for my garden cannot be done in isolation, I regularly seek support from my housemates, my neighbors, and my community.  With gratitude I share our bounty; building relationships of reciprocity in a world designed to keep us separate, independent, and disconnected.  In eating what I grow I keep myself — and my loved ones and community — well, sustaining my commitment to our multi-generational struggle for justice.  In gardening, may we learn, as a community, to practice resurrection.


Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

By Wendell Berry


Love the quick profit, the annual raise,

vacation with pay. Want more

of everything ready-made. Be afraid

to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.

Not even your future will be a mystery

any more. Your mind will be punched in a card

and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something

they will call you. When they want you

to die for profit they will let you know.


So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute. Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace

the flag. Hope to live in that free

republic for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot

understand. Praise ignorance, for what man

has not encountered he has not destroyed.


Ask the questions that have no answers.

Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested

when they have rotted into the mold.

Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.


Put your faith in the two inches of humus

that will build under the trees

every thousand years.

Listen to carrion – put your ear

close, and hear the faint chattering

of the songs that are to come.

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful

though you have considered all the facts.

So long as women do not go cheap

for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy

a woman satisfied to bear a child?

Will this disturb the sleep

of a woman near to giving birth?


Go with your love to the fields.

Lie down in the shade. Rest your head

in her lap. Swear allegiance

to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos

can predict the motions of your mind,

lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way

you didn’t go. Be like the fox

who makes more tracks than necessary,

some in the wrong direction.

Practice resurrection.


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