Why we garden and why you should too

Edible campus garden staff show off our cabbage crop at the Farmers Market.

Edible campus garden staff show off our cabbage crop at the Farmers Market.

By Matthew Briggs, Edible Campus Gardens

Roughly 10,000 years ago humans slowed migration and began to settle the land becoming caretakers of plants. Fast forward to the year 1900, where an estimated 40% of the U.S labor force was considered farmers. During this time, home gardens were abundant, and people held the tradition of growing most of their own food. This practice was strengthened by the world wars, which promoted the concept of victory gardens.

After the wars, the tradition of growing your own food shifted. The companies that once provided the machinery and chemicals of war turned to the production of food. This was the beginning of the commercialization and industrialization of our food supply. Subsequently, this mass-production of food, generally negated the need for people to grow their own food.

Fast-forward once again, to our present; less than 2% of our labor force is made of farmers. With a minimal portion of our community farming, many of us have lost the generational knowledge and skills to grow our own food. For three generations many of us have slowly become more disconnected with the soil. From one perspective, this is wonderful, because many have been liberated from working the land to pursue the discoveries and joys of science, art, and philosophy.

The most valuable gardening tool we have is a set of hands.

The most valuable gardening tool we have is a set of hands.

The other perspective, one held by Mahatma Gandhi, is that we may lose our connection with the earth and our past. It could be that we lose sight of our place in history and in the process of life on earth.

Does this mean we should abandon our world of advancements and abundance? Return to the hills to labor twelve hours a day? I certainly do not believe so; there is always room for some middle ground. I believe that when we grow even the smallest garden, we can reclaim this forgotten connection with the earth. A connection not only to the land that gives us life, but also to the billions of people who came before us and made the lives we live possible.

As one of the University’s garden stewards, we encourage you to come reclaim this connection with us at the Edible Campus Gardens. We are excited to share our knowledge and resources with you so that you can begin growing your very own food. Right here on campus you can learn how to turn sweat and seeds into your very own victory garden!

On April 23rd we’ll be hosting the Last Frost Kick-off, a chance to find sanctuary from the stress of finals. Be part of breaking ground and preparing the garden for the summer growing season from 10am-1pm in the Pioneer Gardens. There will be free lunch, free knowledge, and new people for you to enjoy. We hope to see you there.

Matthew Briggs is a Multi Disciplinary Design student at the U. A native Utahan he hopes to use his design education to develop systems that enable better food production in our deserts and cities.

 

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