Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ask a Farmer

Usually I work in back yards. Last week was four new raised beds: winter and summer squash, (beloved curcubita), beets, brocolli, carrots, turnips, a pile o' potatoes, and tomatoes in pots on a sunny porch. There was a little kid running around, and five hens. A creek runs through a park just behind the yard. A pretty nice office for the week I was there.

I occasionally help out a friend with her landscape/gardening business. This is often front-yard work, and it's always interesting to note that everyone talks to you when you've got your hands in dirt. They don't just say hello as they pass, they stop, talk about flowers, or trees or weather. I read in last week's NY Times Magazine about a woman who works with the guerrila gardenig project in London. They are a group of vigilante gardeners who beautify public places--abandoned tree strips, round-a-bouts--with flowers and shrubbery. She said the only time strangers talk to her in London is when she's gardening.

I also read somewhere that having your hands in good dirt releases in your body the same kind of endorphins that chocolate and sex release. Does seeing someone work in the soil trigger things primal and innate in us? Is that what gives most people a need to connect with me (or anyone) they see digging holes, planting, weeding, watering?

I know when I'm at the Farmers Market, I feel like I can ask the farmer advice about anything. I always try to get a little free plant education from whoever is working the stand, but I also feel I could ask and receive good advice about car trouble, ankle pain, why my brakes on my bike are rubbing...They just seem like they'd know. Maybe it's because when you're outside, working in the earth, you have a lot of time to think. Your work is food and beauty. You toil in providing basic needs: water, sun, healthy environment, food. Easy to understand and absolutely necessary. I think just watching someone plant a flower triggers the dirt reflex.

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