Who Cares for Whom?

See this glorious variegated corn? I’m so drawn to its colors, its beauty. 
This is one multi-use variety we’re growing in our no-till slashmulch 3-sisters garden of corn, beans and squash. This was intended to be a “plant it and forget it” type of garden. But I just can’t forget this beauty. 

Instead, I’m spending a little extra time tending and nurting this planting, drawn to want to tend this beautiful plant. And that is deep ecology. 
In a very literal sense, this plant has evolved to coax gardeners like me into tending it. Just as all cultivated plants have: through their usefulness, their great flavors, their intoxicating aromas, and of course their beauty. 

No doubt the synergy goes both ways. I take care of  them, they take care of me. Surely, they provide me with a high-calorie carb crop that provides me with the energy I need to garden. And the rich, brilliant flavor of the corn in its milk stage keeps me near, protecting the seed crop when its at its most vulnerable. And yes, this food is medicine. 

But beyond that, could this plant offer me healing and nourishment through its beauty? Does it hold me as a devoted protector with its inspiring colors? When I sit and look at it, is it building my connection with my ecosystem, teaching me to be a better steward? Healing my relationship with the earth and my community? 



When I tend her, I tend the soil, I tend the myriad of beings that dwell therein. And so, I tend myself: making the habitat that supports me richer, more fertile, more abundant and healing. This is part of the magic of forest gardening. 

I’m drawn to the beauty of this diverse landscape. I want to increase its health, enrich its diversity. And so I make the land better for myself, and all the beings I share it with. It has transformed me, a lowsy destructive human, from a “pest” into a beneficial. 


Through forest gardening, I no longer want to “control” the landscape, go to war with it, limit its diversity. I want it to be wild, free, healthy and diverse, and I prioritize techniques that lead to that end. 



“Come to me. Tend me. Give me water. Cover my soil. And I will nurture you, too. I can heal the sickness that has grown in your heart….” 
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