When Pope Francis promulgated his encyclical Laudato Si, I was just finishing reading, for the second time, Wendell Berry’s classic novel Jayber Crow (highly recommended). Perhaps it was the confluence of these two works at such a time made the impact more significant than they would have been alone, but the message hit with tremendous force.
I am only recently married, and we are fortunate enough to be living in a home that we own (well, at least our names are on the title – the bank owns most of what we have). We live in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, fortunate to be close to where I work, at the University. While I have always lived in the suburbs, the sense of nostalgia provoked by Berry’s fiction is stunning. His vivid imagery is convicting, and the sense of place stirs up a longing within me that I do not always recognise as my own.
Along with some friends, we have discussed, at length, the idea of living on acreage and being involved in some kind of subsistence or small crop farming etc. And, as appealing as it is, is not really within our grasp at present (or for the foreseeable future). Chickens, veggies, herbs, and some fruit trees will have to do for now – all we really need now is a bacon tree and we are set. This is our attempt to ‘grow where we’re planted…’ (don’t excuse the pun, embrace it).
The motivation to do just that came with a little inspiration drawn from a favourite author:
Participate in food production to the extent that you can.
If you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a sunny window, grow something to eat in it. Make a little compost of your kitchen scraps and use it for fertilizer. Only by growing some food for yourself can you become acquainted with the beautiful energy cycle that revolves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to offal to decay, and around again. You will be fully responsible for any food that you grow for yourself, and you will know all about it. You will appreciate it fully, having known it all its life.