Yesterday was one of the most ideal days of my lifetime: I gardened in the Davidson Community gardens, went to the Davidson farmers’ market, toured local farms, and talked about sustainability with friends and mentors all in one day. It was beyond inspiring.
My interest in food as a topic related to sustainability began three years ago. On a fateful evening in June, I watched the movie Fresh about local farms on the East Coast of the United States. This film highlighted the impacts of industrial farming in a very real way: it spoke to the farmers themselves. In each story, the farmers exposed the not-so-glamorous side to monocultures, subsidies, and chemical-based farming. It exposed slaughter houses (I also saw one for the first time yesterday… slightly traumatizing.) It became increasingly evident to me that our commercialized food industry not only threatens our health and our economy, but the very future of our species.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I was back watching Fresh on the east coast of the United States again, only now I had two years of an international education in my viewing perspective. I realized where my craving for slow, sustainable, whole food – soul food – emerged. The film’s message to rethink our food choices spoke to my heart three years ago just as much as they did yesterday.
With a bundle of excitement and enthusiasm, I set off with the other freshman eco-reps to the “Know Your Farms” tour. We started at the Davidson farm, where I learned that our campus has recently acquired a 109-acre property solely to farm food for our campus dining services. I, along with my beautiful friend Isabel, could not contain our excitement for the possibility of digging our hands in soil every week for four years. Ideas of projects blossomed, feeding my inner fire, as I walked through the day.
I decided that in order to reconnect people to nature, I need to be in relationship with both. I need my time in the garden, and that is what the Davidson Community Garden and Davidson Farm is for. Then, I need to reach out to community groups: local youth at charter and public schools, my Quaker meeting, the beautiful souls in my yoga class, and bring them with me. We can produce as much as our hands can plant. Through service, I hope to cultivate my love for creation and for people, and plant the seed of nature connection to others. I decided to call my project Nature Speak.
What is it about nature that speaks so intuitively? As the proverb goes, “Never did nature say one thing and wisdom another.” As I rode in tractors and walked across fields yesterday, I realized that the wisdom of nature lies in its interdependence. All of the elements – light, water, earth, minerals – converge in the miracle of a growing plant. Likewise, no plant or animal can be sustained in without other species present. In community, each one is able to flourish and live out its unique purpose.
I believe that our worlds needs to hear this lesson more than any other. We cannot exist without one another – and it is our unique imperfections, our particular faiths and cultures and dogmas and rituals – that can connect us. We need our particularity in order to be authentically human. This has been my lesson in my writing class about Religious Pluralism, where my classmates and I discuss the beauty – and challenge – of particularity. Our discussions have fed me with inspiration.
Real, authentic food for the soul is not always easy to find. Our world loves convenience, efficiency, and packaged nutrition. We like to put our people and our granola bars in labelled wrappers. But beyond labels and words, we each have our own taste. And we all come from the same Source. The sunshine is the origin of all food, and God’s Love is the source of our very existence.
So, with sunshine, good friends, and seedlings, I anticipate a beautiful four years – and beyond – of nourishing work. May you also taste the sweetness of soul food this week!