agriculture versus wild foraging
I've spent the past seven years building my gardening skills, and the past five years standing firmly behind permaculture as a solution to saving the earth. I love gardening. It calms my anxious mind, so it has made so much sense to me that being physically active and working outside with plants is my heart path.
Last summer, I showed up at Teaching Drum, permaculture certified, with my Newcomb's wildflower guide in hand, looking for someone to teach me something, as I've done my whole life.
But no one wanted to "teach" me anything. They wanted to create the space for me to learn more about myself, and find out what I really wanted to learn and do with my time.
I knew that I wanted to gather wild food and learn practical, primitive crafts, such as hide tanning and basketmaking, so I structured my days around that.
Even now I struggle with creating my own structure here, which means figuring out what I want to focus on, and pushing myself through the fumbles of learning something new, and then not feeding the thought that's often in the back of my head that says, "You're wasting your time. Time is money, Wren. Your input is only worthy if there's output."
Last year, we gathered hundreds of pounds of wild leeks(ramps), wild rice, black walnuts, cisco fish and sucker fish, and deer meat, and our freezer was packed full of food for the winter. Aside from this, we ate seasonal greens such as milkweed and basswood leaves, and berries here and there.
Throughout it all I wondered how wild gathering fit with gardening.I imagined having my own land in the future; hunting, gathering, and gardening.
About a month ago, I got into a debate with someone about agriculture. He shared his perspective that any type of agriculture, even permaculture, was just another way that humans play out the modern mindset of being in control of the land, and as soon as humans transitioned from hunter gatherers to farmers, the population began booming and continued to grow to an unsustainable amount.
I defended permaculture as the solution to feeding such a huge population.
Now, the population sits at 7 billion people, so many people that we would need 2 more planets to sustain us if we continue on like we do. But the harsh reality is that humans are reproducing and destroying the earth at a rate so fast that some kind of natural disaster will most likely kill most of us. We cannot continue like this much longer. And this trend all started when we began to control the land through agriculture.
I started reading and studying this perspective more, and I realized that maybe I was defending myself in this debate. I was afraid of letting go of an easier solution, and my identity as a gardener. I was afraid of that hopeless feeling that I don't fit into the modern world anymore, and that there's no way things are going to change until they really have to. But here I am faced with it. People are jumping on the organic gardening boat, while I jump off it.
And what do I do now? I could sit in fear of it all, fear that I can't do anything to help anymore. But, what if there is something I could do? Maybe it would start with just a small step in a big project that seems overwhelming, just like the projects that I take on here at Teaching Drum.
Maybe it would just start with learning how to make a fire- a fire without matches, with just two pieces of wood held in my bare hands.
Maybe it would start with really, truly listening to someone when they are speaking.
Or...maybe I could learn to tell a story, a story passed on through many generations, that gives a lesson about how to live life simply; a lesson that guides our children on a path that looks at the earth and sees how symbiotic the relationship really is, and that control will only destroy us.
Is Sustainable Agriculture an Oxymoron?