I just completed the 3-day workshop at Ecology Action in Willits, CA. I plan to write down all the facts and figures at some point, including what the future garden plan will look like and what my goals for the next few years are, but I wanted to get down my thoughts and feelings while they're still fresh. It was amazing, overwhelming, thought-provoking, tedious, and transformative all at once.
The room was full of people who are looking for change and new ideas. Most were probably in their 20s, some just out of college and figuring out what to do with their lives and some who were already garden veterans who needed new input. There were a few 30- or 40-somethings, established in their careers and looking for better solutions for their lives. Many in this group were gardening for a living or partial living in one way or another. The remainder were retired or close to it and wanting to help specific populations: one man had plans to work in Afghanistan, another man is running an urban garden program in San Francisco, one woman is a nutrition expert, one couple is thinking of moving to the Willits area to garden seriously without having to deal with the high mortgage payments of Marin County.
I haven't ever been around this many people who were already convinced that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. No one seemed to need the introductory lecture on disappearing resources: water, farmable land, oil, knowledge of sustainable practices. We were all there to learn and that's exactly what we got - my head is spinning right now with random facts about Jerusalem artichokes (biomass + calories!) and the best way to transplant seedlings (don't touch the roots, unless they're onions!). A room full of people ready for change has a real buzz about it, and this is real, personal, sweaty, complicated change that you can't pawn off on a politician or a do-gooder. This is revolution...one clump of dirt at a time.
I'm inspired, and terrified. I really don't want to sit down with a calculator and figure out calories per square foot, or compost by (air-dried) weight, or the number of seedlings in a flat. But that's what we did today and what I have the tools to do in the future. Will William and I, realistically, ever grow every single thing we eat and forgo coffee and chocolate forever? Probably not...unless we have to. If we do, I have the (VERY) basic blueprints for a diet that will feed both us and the soil. Unlike the rest of the workshop participants, however, I can't go home and dig up the back yard to put all of this into practice. We won't have land of our own until early January at best, and maybe not even until next spring. I can plan endlessly but until I see the land there's not much I can be certain of. But...it's like a exile longing for home. I can already feel the soil on my fingers and smell the freshness of it, and all of my dreams are green around the edges.