By: Natural Mommy Editor, Siobhan Bonisteel Topping
“As a deep ecologist, I really believe the Earth belongs to itself.” Catherine Tammaro
We dig a hole, we plant a seed, we water it and watch it grow. As it grows, we pull out the weeds crowding the tiny plant so it can photosynthesize and get nutrients from the soil. When it bears its bounty we eat it, the taste is unlike anything in a store. It is truly a magical and delicious event. Somehow it seems unreal. It feels like a miracle.
It is not just about “gardening” it is actually about Earth time. A phrase I’m using to mean time spent in nature or time set aside for the Earth, the way you would for a good friend. Sometimes when I garden, my son just runs around me – picking up sticks, looking up at the sky, whatever thrills him in the moment. However different, we are in essence doing the same thing, we are at play in the land that made us – this is Earth time.
Earth time is as simple as my son playing in the dirt with his toy cars while I pull weeds. I love hearing his little three-year-old voice excitedly ask me to find him a worm for viewing. We are both enjoying Earth time on our own terms, suited to our stages in life. There is an unspoken truth: this land is in our very souls. It sustains us, and sustained our ancestors. And it will continue to, if we can protect and nurture it during this time of great need. For me, having Earth time with my son and teaching him about caring for the environment (while I strive to limit my own ecological footprint) is now part of the duties of motherhood. It’s not just about me; it is about working towards having a healthy planet for my son and the generations after him.
One way my family enjoys Earth time together is by gardening in a community plot as well as at our home. Along with other community members and neighbours we grow organic food. We all eat from the Earth. This is not a radical concept. It is a fact. By extension, it is logical to assume it unwise to pollute, poison or contaminate the Earth that we need to survive. Organic and local ways of growing food helps to encourage biodiversity and create alternatives to monocropped, mass-produced, processed “foods” grown with chemicals and then shipped long distance thereby creating even more pollution. Additionally, Earth time is like a meditation. Time spent in nature is time spent reconnecting. It becomes an act of reverence for the life force of which we too are made.
I focus on Earth time with my child because I want him to know butterflies, bees and the sounds of birds. It is important to me that he understands that food starts from seed and grows because of the sun, water, pollinators, and nutrients that are in the soil. I want him to know what local, organic food is and that the best food comes from a healthy Earth. I want him to understand that soil is buzzing with life. Worms, bugs, bacteria and other micro-organisms turn what we don’t need any more into life again. They teach us death is an illusion. Life is simply changing forms. Worms and other soil creatures are the transportation for life’s transformation. If life were a passenger, the worm would be the cab driver.
Worms take organic materials and along with time, digest it back into soil. It is the top-soil that covers our planet which is responsible for growing plants and trees. We need soil to grow that which sustains us. We too are apart of this life cycle. We can choose to be in rhythm with it or to destroy it. Ultimately, I hope that the human race will globally decide to dance with nature, not against it.
When I encourage Earth time with my son, I feel I am instilling in him a love for nature without the need for words. It is not something I need to tell him; instead I let him cultivate his innate love of the natural world by giving him opportunities to enjoy it. That way he will care for the Earth when it’s his turn. He will feel that the land we stand on is personal to him, as it is to me.
Image: Siobhan’s son walking up to their community garden plot on a 900+ acre natural reserve.