The Fall Harvest

Image copyright Zoe Weil.
It’s quite a lot of work growing food. And sometimes the results aren’t as expected. I’ve stopped growing corn after losing the entire crop two years in a row to a hungry bear; and I still haven’t managed to grow good-sized onions. There are the hours and hours of preparation and weeding, harvesting and storing. Sometimes there is even the guilt-inducing “problem” of abundance, when a home gardener knows she can’t eat it all but then has to figure out how to get the surplus to people who need it before it goes bad (which is why I’ve stopped growing zucchini).

And then there is the question that I hear in my mind every year when I have so much work to do (my real work – saving the world through humane education), yet my garden requires my attention: “Is this the best use of your time, Zoe?” After all, there are farmers’ markets I can visit, and my food co-op I can support. Why do I feel so compelled to grow food?

I grow food because it’s powerful and magical to tend the soil; to put tiny seeds in careful rows; to thin the seedlings so that each has space to grow; to week after week pull out those plants that are crowding the crops, and to watch over several months as bare earth turns into a spectacular, outrageous, crowded 900 square feet of huge quantities of... food.

Image copyright Zoe Weil.
I’m lucky to live in a rural area where land is plentiful, but even when I lived in a row house in Philadelphia, I grew food in the postage-sized back “yard.” And friends in inner city neighborhoods have converted squalid, abandoned lots with compacted, glass-filled, trash-covered ground into bountiful, productive gardens.

Hundreds of generations of humans have turned wild plants into cultivated, flavorful, nutritious masterpieces called carrots, beets, kale, broccoli, chard, beans, asparagus, kohlrabi, squash, cabbage, and so many other vegetables. So if you can, grow a radish or a big pot of tomatoes. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: "Solutionaries"
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"
My TEDxYouth@BFS "Educating for Freedom"

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