I had the good fortune to chat to local playwright Fern Martin a few days ago about the upcoming variety show at the Old Town Hall on January 16, the segment of “Trash Dance” that will be featured and her ongoing campaign to remove the scourge of litter and garbage from our community.
I suggested to Fern that I believe that there is a connection between littering and our alienation from the soil and from the production of flowers and vegetables. When we no longer feel connected to the soil and the nurturing of developing plants I believe that it is much easier to treat the outdoors as a huge garbage dump.
My recommendation to Fern was that rather than coming up with ideas to encourage people to ‘pitch it in’ we develop more gardening programs, particularly in the schools, so that everyone has an opportunity to connect with the soil and with growing things. I’m not sure that she bought the idea as a panacea as we probably need other ways of reaching the ‘litter bugs’ in the short term.
However I believe that we can make a huge difference to our environment if people relearn respect for the world around us. I can think of no better way than to get our hands dirty and connect close-up with the mystery of how a tiny seed mixed with soil, oxygen and water is able to create a delectable vegetable that we can eat or a flowering plant that tantalizes our senses of small and sight. And what better way to connect with people at an impressionable age than to make gardens part of the schoolyard experience.
We already have a robust program in place at Naismith School in Almonte. Kudos to the kids, the Principal and teachers and the volunteers from the Almonte Horticultural Society for the construction of growing boxes and for the maintenance, planting and care of healthy little vegetables. Peas and many other vegetables were in abundance as well as several herbs including a couple of seven foot tall lovage plants when I took a look around the garden in late June this summer. Much of the produce from the Naismith garden was destined for our local Food Bank.
I truly believe that there is hope for the future if children connect with the soil and learn how to plant and nurture small growing things. Children can learn many important lessons about healthy food choices, about how to help to feed the hungry in our community, and of course not to throw their garbage on the soil that nurtures life on earth.
My goal is to see a vibrant gardening program at every school in our community this year. I will be bending a few ears around the community to try to achieve this!