New Moon 18 May – Eat garlic, leeks, and tomatoes
Memorial Day (observed) 25 May – Plant warm-season vegetables
Full Strawberry Moon, 2 June – Plant most varieties of strawberries
World Environment Day 5 June
“To Janie’s eyes, everything in the Everglades was big and new…Ground so rich that everything went wild. Wild cane on either side of the road hiding the rest of the world. People wild too.”
—Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Goethe, the German writer, asserted “Nature is whole and yet never finished.” Paradoxically, his statement also speaks to more recent sites of conflict in Baltimore, Ferguson before it and others that will inevitably follow. At the risk of mixing too many literary metaphors, Hurston’s “People wild too,” deeply resonates with reportings of victims and protestors that some think needed weeding and cutting down. But how do we eliminate notions of “inevitability” cultivated by aggressive policing tactics? More importantly, how do we transform the festering conditions, structural and environmental patterns that spawn these policies and attitudes? How might we more deliberately align ourselves with nature to support our highest intentions?
Since 1792, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has been one of those idiosyncratic, instructive manuals. Indeed, the Almanac has remained a reliable source for nature’s environmental patterns, even as our human evolutionary progress has been rife with conflict and partiality. Like many of you, occasionally I have picked up the Almanac with its bright yellow, glow-in-the-dark cover, and as quickly returned it to the bottom of the stacks. My impressions of it were as a quirky if not curmudgeonly publication. I also found it impossibly complicated to read with useful articles interspersed with cheesy ads for “miracle” seeds and gardening trivia. No longer dependent on “secret formulas” and “elaborate predictions” from past centuries, today, the publication relies on advanced technology and sophisticated data available through Meterologists, Climatologists, and environmental researchers. Who cares, by the way, that the Almanac collect their data about a year ahead of publication?
The Almanac it turns out is trending, mostly among older readers, but it remains a valued resource by younger urban and rural growers across the country. I recall reading a few years ago, that in the 1980s, coalitions of African American farmers organized a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for what amounts to “reparations” for decades of discriminatory funding practices. Biased policies resulted in lost revenue and dignity, which have impacted generations since the Reconstruction-era. While a landmark 2011 case awarded hard-fought remuneration to hundreds of families, others continue to fight ongoing allegations of fraud that have been lodged by political conservatives and delay further payouts. It exacts a toll for descendants of those past generations that must continually fight to prove ownership and worth. In measurable ways, the historical dispossession of our farmland and years of urban migration, is reflected in our contemporary, fractured relationship to nature.
I picked up the Almanac again, this time to more closely read and absorb its contents. Yes, there is boundless statistical data about astronomical calculations and seasonal growing that I’ll probably never use. And yes, I did snicker at its corny life is “sow” good articles. On the other hand, I was glad to booty up on patterns of droughts, with sadly, another oil spill in Santa Barbara. Mostly, I read this periodical as a reminder of what I already know about standing tall, firm, and sustainably, in a society not always convinced of my worth.
With nature as our model, her poise becomes our own.
It would be naive to suggest that parks, gardens, beaches and farms, or the mere “presence” of natural environments, is a cure-all for the outrage that initially gave rise to “Black Lives Matters” activism. Oh, but wouldn’t it be a magnificent point of entry for the unearthing of recurring crisis?
As we seek necessary corrective measures and justice from our policing forces, let’s also take the time to educate ourselves about the toxins that spur poverty, distrust, and all environmental corruption. Sometimes we eat sweet and tender. Sometimes we taste bitter, strange fruit, driven by the emotional uncertainty that defines growing up young lives that should matter. Our collective interest is to relearn the richness of a fertile humanity, rather than weed-infested fear.
With nature, we are deep breaths and expansive lungs, that consume fresh air and smell the garlic. With nature, we create parks and gardens that serve as generative sanctuaries for our children and elders and grow honest food that produces authentic living. With nature, we access our truest nature and even when judged “wild,” learn to see more clearly, the “never finished” parts of who we are.
Keep healing. Keep planting. Stay green. Stay square. Meet you at the next New Moon.
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Articles on National Young Farmers Coalition: http://www.youngfarmers.org/
Articles on Black Farmers: http://zesterdaily.com/agriculture/farmers-of-color-american-treasures/