Of late, I have been pondering all of the above. Gardening is an intimate activity in some ways – you are producing food that you, your family and loved ones eat, you are tending and nurturing, providing. Also protecting (and killing). Perhaps it’s a basic expression of your survival ability; to hunt, gather, grow. (There, we can blame Darwin, again!)
Without coming across as a stick-in-the-mud, things-were-better-in-my day, or just simply a grumpy-old-gardener, it does seem that individualism mostly rules. It’s always easier and less fraught just to do your own thing, rather than have to converse, negotiate, compromise, accede, assert. I can appreciate the need to individualise, or to be self sufficient, but when it comes to gardening, well, there’s always an excess, or famine. And so shouldn’t we all share in that? And also, most crucially, the resources that create it?
Many community gardens thrive then die, all because of people, timing, need (eg drought, fire), season, circumstances, funding, will, energy, politics, people. We have had many visits and visitors from all over the State each year, all wanting to know what we do and how, yearning to create their own … well, something like our garden. Yes, the space our garden creates, or inhabits, is special. But we are still only young in gardening years and we can’t really show ourselves as a community of gardeners. Or maybe we are?
We are approaching our 5th year as a community garden and for the past one have been trying to re-invent, or at least re-energise. Easier said if you’re an inner-city, groovy locale with a waiting list akin to the MCG members, but here in Newstead, well … We do know people right across the community appreciate the garden, visit, pick from it, show their friends and relations through it, but that doesn’t often correspond to actual gardening membership, fellowship, contribution, give and take, connection and, importantly, work in the garden. I know some aren’t as passionate about the soil and plants and growing plants (and community) as others. Life has higher/other priorities. Everyone is different.
I guess it’s not just an issue for our garden, but more importantly, rural community life everywhere and anywhere? A few take on the legwork of keeping things running and maybe humming, for all. Getting together to talk about our priorities, participation and and how we manage our garden to share the efforts and the rewards and the lovely company and interactions that the garden brings is my wish for 2015.