The Northeast Earth Coalition

Reflections at the end of the gardening year

By Jose German-Gomez

The start of this decade will be remembered forever. The continued impact of the COVID pandemic and its subsequent variants transformed the world we used to live in. The climate crisis’s consequences have become more evident than ever with natural disasters around the globe. The war in Ukraine and Russia’s nuclear threats are eroding world peace and causing worldwide hunger and energy crises.

Amid this tumultuous situation, our homes and local surroundings can give us a sense of security and space to preserve our mental health. Many of us have found solace and comfort in gardening and visiting our parks and nature preserves. We have become more conscious of the value of our loved ones, the communities where we live, and our capacity to help others in time of crisis.

Many things have changed in our lives and even in our personal values and life perspectives. We have learned from experience about the fragility of our world and how vulnerable we are. We have seen friends, neighbors, and members of our families suffering the consequences of the virus and climate change, such as fires on the west coast, extreme heat, and drought. The climate crisis has already contributed to hurricanes, floods, massive losses in property and infrastructure, and a decline in agriculture.

I hope the seasonal shift to a slower pace of life will allow us to slow down and find quiet and balance by the time spring arrives. We can learn to appreciate the importance of long conversations with family and friends, meditation, cooking healthy food grown just outside our doors, listening to the bird song, dancing, reading, writing journals and poetry, and making art with our children.

This year, we have become more conscious of the future of our planet and the need to protect the environment and improve our quality of life. Our planet home is in urgent need of healing; forests need to be restored, and air and water need to be cleaned up for our own preservation. We must act today because our future depends on what we do now. You have a vital role in this process. You have the power to make changes in your lifestyle and at home.

Through the 2022 gardening season, we nurtured our gardens and our loved ones. We had harvests that were shared with families and friends. Now at the end of the gardening season, we have witnessed the transformation of nature from spring to fall with new eyes and a new mentality. We have questioned our purpose in life while reflecting deeply on the planet, the environment, and the actions we need to take now to preserve the legacy of our children and grandchildren.

As we move forward to the end of 2022, we need to reflect on our roles as healers and restorers of our environment. I hope we remember that our actions really do matter and that everything is related in one way or another.

Let’s plant the seeds of the native plants that will eventually restore the habitats of pollinators and other beneficial wildlife. Let’s plant the seeds of tolerance and understanding to grow a strong community where all people can thrive regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Let’s see our community and people as we see nature: forests and meadows, tall trees and saplings, bushes, flowers, ground cover, and all forms of wildlife together creating the perfect balance we call nature.

Let’s create healthier open spaces where humans and wildlife can coexist in harmony and mutual respect. By planting hope, love, and kindness whenever we have the opportunity, we will see our community thriving and people coming together with the collective feeling that they are in a safe place where they are respected and appreciated.

Growing your own food is not only rewarding but also an essential element of sustainability. While nurturing your body, you are also helping the environment by reducing the fuel impact of the transportation of your food. Gardening is much more than planting seeds and growing flowers or food. It is a wholistic life experience that allows us to connect with our surroundings in multiple ways.

If you want to experience the joy of accomplishment at the personal level, plant a garden. Gardening is also very therapeutic, slowing us down and forcing patience by putting us back in touch with the slower cycles of nature, an eye-opening experience. At the same time, by cultivating friendships and networking with our new friends we are building community and providing support to great causes: environmental protection, food security, social justice, and mutual aid.

According to an Indian proverb, “All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.” Whether we plant a seed or a tree, we are investing in the future and creating a legacy for new generations. Gardening implies hope and a future.