The will to live life differently can start in some of the most unusual places. – Pam Warhurst, Incredible, Edible Town
Gardening, especially public, renegade gardening, is one of the most important things conscious and awakening people can do right now to affect global change in favor of good health, a sound environment, and personal liberty. More than any other political issue, the freedom to garden, to grow food, is more clearly a matter of common sense and basic liberty than any other. And more so than any other issue, the quality of our food supply and the dire condition of our natural environment demands our immediate attention and action.
Propaganda gardening, a combination of guerrilla gardening and protest, is about developing self-sufficiency while making a simple, yet bold statement about the world we all share, and the rules we choose to live by. It is about taking any old small plot of trodden earth, sewing seed in it, and showing the public how simple it really would be to fix this world.
In South Central Los Angeles, the community that made drive-by shootings famous, renegade gardener Ron Finley is more preoccupied with the terrible effects that drive-thrus are having on his community. As one of the largest food deserts in America, the South Central landscape is peppered with fast food joints, junk food stores and kidney dialysis clinics, and the damage this is doing to the health of the community is clear to all.
Typically, food deserts are defined by: 1) the lack or absence of large grocery stores and supermarkets that sell fresh produce and healthy food options; and 2) low-income populations living on tight budgets. These food deserts are also signified by high levels of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the community, which result from residents buying their food from corner stores that sell processed foods, and plentiful fast food options. [News One]
Frustrated with the lack of nutritious food in South Central Los Angeles, the area that leads the nation in vacant lots, Finley grew tired of watching people die of curable diseases. He attacked this problem by planting food in the little patch of abused dirt and weeds between the road and the sidewalk.
At first, the city attempted to regulate him by issuing a citation, then placing a warrant out for his arrest; but, a swift public backlash against the totalitarian idiocy of the charges against him helped him gain notoriety from the community, and support from city officials. His project is spreading rapidly and having a very positive effect on the lives of many people.
This represents another win for the food freedom movement, much like what recently happened in Florida when city policy was overturned and a young couple was able to continue gardening in their own front yard.
“Growing your own food is like printing money,” says Finley, who also shares the simple wisdom of how to get kids to eat kale and tomatoes. “If kids grow kale, they eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes. But when none of this is presented to them, if they’re not shown how food affects the mind and the body, they blindly eat whatever the hell is in front of then.”
Gardening is an opportunity to train children, the community and the government on how to correct the most fundamental problems in our society. In the model we have now for addressing health and nutrition, people are growing further disconnected from the land and the nature of food, and disease is practically encouraged, as our health care model is directed at symptom management rather than achieving health. This de-naturing of the human body leads to the degeneration of the human mind and spirit, creating a nation of unhappy, dependent people.
As a form of protest, and as a way of displaying resilience to overwhelming pressure by agro-chemical and seed companies to dominate the right to grow food, the public reaction to propaganda gardening is always more positive than rallies and political party events that tend stir up contention.
As an example of what can happen when an entire community adopts this frame of mind, take a look at the Incredible, Edible Town. The ordinary warriors of Todmorden, England uncovered an untapped source of well-being in their community when they began to plant food in the most unusual place. Now, the small English town has become a worldwide phenomenon and tourist attraction.
All over America right now, people are taking action and taking up gardening for the first time, and we are seeing somewhat of a reinvention of the Victory Gardens of WWII. Independent groups of proactive citizens are putting the activist mindset at work in the soil in order to both create a model for a better future, and to prepare for the worst in this new model of revolution. John Bush, Libertarian political activist and Executive Director for Center for Natural Living in Austin, TX, explains the goal this forward thinking initiative in the following presentation:
Gardening for philosophical and practical reasons is, perhaps, the best way to make a statement regarding the condition of our society while putting forth a true solution. Not many other political activities can boast of being this effective. It is the one act of protest and civil disobedience that is rooted in love, rather than fear.
As Ron Finley says, in order to make this world a better place, we have to start with changing the composition of the soil.
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an avid student of Yoga and life.