Growing Resilience - The Quiet Revolution Taking Place in Our Gardens

Liberation is to be found in the garden, says veggie growing fanatic Everest Fernandez, but we need to be vigilant to keep the space sacred, even on the semantic level.

I loathe statistics but figures like these turn me redder than a beetroot. According to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners in Great Britain, you can save over $2,000 (£1,300) a year by growing your own fruit and vegetables in a small allotment. Why—you may ask—do heartwarming stats like these make an avid gardener like myself so angry? 

Let me start by getting something straight. My garden is a holy place. It’s where I keep things real—really real. No TV. No radio. No Internet. No Facebook. That’s all a good start. But there’s a far more profound isolation and independence to be found in the vegetable garden. The ethics of bankster-mandated austerity measures are utterly irrelevant and removed as I crouch to weed my slightly wiggly rows of winter carrots. I feel beautifully immune from all the rhetoric repeated incessantly through the consolidated mainstream media outlets. My tomato seeds, carefully saved from last year’s crop, germinate according to the favorability of natural conditions, not economic ones. The goat farmer up the road lets me take all the manure I can shovel. I enjoy leafy greens, potatoes and many other vegetables all year round. Summers—well don’t get me started! They are a bonanza of peas, egg plants, bell peppers, bush beans—you name it—all doing great despite the economic downturn.

I transformed this derelict land into a thriving vegetable garden in just three weeks using only hand tools and elbow grease.Gardening isn’t about money for me—and don’t, whatever you do, call it a hobby. That’ll really get me hopping. Go collect your stamps, learn the piano, or swim a few lengths in a large bath of chlorine if you must, but don’t you dare try to reduce my garden plot to a quaint earthy venue for some pithy “eco-leisure activity.” Gardening is the real deal. Growing our own food is about liberty, not leisure. It’s about asserting and, more importantly, exercising our inalienable right to live and prosper irrespective of the diminishing purchasing power of some bank-issued, fiat monopoly money. It’s about living a real life—God damn it—it’s not just a money-saving tactic! Any talk of money defiles the sacred space of the vegetable plot!

Now, if you think that I’m being a tad over-sensitive or even eccentrically protective, consider the implications of allowing the language of these serpentine money lenders into the temple of our gardens. Take the cases of Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan and Jason and Hennifer Helvenston of Orlando, Florida – two sets of Americans who have had to battle tooth and nail against local zoning restrictions (and threats of imprisonment!) for creating front-yard vegetable gardens in their suburban surroundings. Okay, it's suburbia—but still, it’s where they have chosen to live—why on earth should growing your own food on your own land even be questioned?

Jason and Jennifer Helvenston created this beautiful front-yard vegetable garden in Orlando, Florida in spite of zoning restrictions.

However, maybe there’s a clue here for those of a libertarian, rebellious gait? Perhaps the best way to truly unsettle the status quo is to … grow! Bill Mollison, the founder of modern permaculture, makes the point conversely:

“…the greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”

Sobering words indeed. So let us not pay any heed to the pen-pushing control freaks who try to tell us where we can and can’t grow our food. It is our duty to laugh so hard in their faces that they're doused with a shower of free range organic spittle. But let’s go further. As growers we should grow for the sake of growing. We must jealously guard our husbandry from any narrative that seeks to couch our reality-based endeavors within the utterly fictitious terms of fiat currency.

Do you really want a revolution? Then grow more than you need this year and give it away to your neighbors. Let the politicians deal with their debts and deficits. I'll see you in the garden—where true community grows!