A few years ago I met a farmer and activist called Gerald. He was wonderfully full of knowledge and generous in his willingness to share it. He was also a man who was totally connected to the land and fully understood the critical importance of humankind’s role within the natural world.
“Agriculture has got that name for a reason,” he told me. “It’s culture because it is an art and not a science, and trying to make it into a science is where so many things fall flat.”
He went on to tell me that growing and farming was a deeply creative act, and idea that I have come back to many times recently. If we’re to think about culture in the widest sense what is it that we are really thinking about? And where do our growing spaces of all shapes and sizes fit into that thinking?
Over and over again in my own creative practice I am struck by the way that art and culture in its truest sense is about stepping into grey areas that feel uncertain, and about finding emotional connection and understanding in the murk. On this level I loved the frame that Gerald created because it joined some dots for me in a very definite way. That elusive sense of emotional clarity that we are all looking as human beings is a huge part of what growing, and gardening, and being in nature brings to me. In an extension of that much of my permaculture practice is focused upon it too.
And in a world intent upon perpetuating a sense of the exclusivity and separateness of humankind the act of growing as a way to engage directly in a direct way with the vast and magnificent natural world is a truly radical act.
Could there be an easier way of articulating a statement of purpose around engagement in the planet that we inhabit, and a willingness to surrender to natural elements that are beyond our control? Planting a seed, tending a garden no matter how small, caring for a plant… transformative acts through which genuinely transformative cultures begin to emerge…
Such simplicity, which somehow encapsulates almost infinite complexity.