Why I garden?
Why I garden?
By Natasha, The Sage Garden
I garden for many reasons. Yes, I garden because it’s my job, but there are many other reasons. When I look out of my office window I see two different corners of our vegetable garden. In one spot, I see broad bean walls, taller than my three year old, tucked under the arm of a blossoming nectarine tree. I see flowering borage that has self-seeded and is hanging over our little garden fence, and our rocket is flowering and towers over the bright green parsley. And in the other corner I see the ancient artichoke, vibrant rainbow silver beet, plump-looking cauliflower and garlic, straight and tall, with herbs, lettuce and leeks popping up in between. When I look at my garden I see all of this but I also see so much more. I see my creativity, my physical and mental health, and food for my family.
The beauty about gardening is if you longed to be an artist (like me) but have no natural ability (like me), all the hard work is done for you. The colour, the shape, the size has already been determined. Your only job is deciding where they will go. Painted wooden stakes support my tomatoes, fluoro string holds up the walls of my broad beans and plant markers of all colours, shapes and sizes adorn the garden. Planning out a vegetable garden and choosing the plants that go in it are two of my greatest joys. I love mixing the different foliage and flowers, creating different levels and shapes. Gardening allows me to be the frustrated artist I am.
When I first started gardening I loved showing off my strength… to myself. I loved wheeling full wheelbarrows across the school garden and digging deep holes. Okay, I also liked it when someone would offer to help me carry a heavy bag of compost and I’d say “no thanks”. I am not by nature a gym person, I have been to the gym, I have been a member of many gyms in fact, I like Pilates and yoga, but mostly I like being outside. I don’t want to run unless I’m being chased, and I don’t really want to be chased by anyone. When you garden, you go outside for a couple hours in the fresh air, you achieve something with purpose and feel physically drained afterwards (in that good way). When I garden I’m reminded of what my body is capable of doing.
I have always been aware of the physical reward of gardening, but as I have got older it is the mental benefit that has helped me the most. People often talk about being grounded; nothing grounds you more than being in the ground. By nature I am prone to anxiety, it comes in waves and I guess you could say at times I have found it hard to manage. I go to the garden. Sitting in the garden doesn’t work for me; I need to be in the garden. On my hands and knees pulling out weeds, dead heading flowers (sounds a lot more dramatic than it is), planting seeds, saving seeds, mulching, watering. So much to be done, so little time to be in my own head, so much energy going out, so little energy left to be buzzing wildly around my body. Gardening is a place to calm the mind.
When I look out at my garden from my computer I see food and the promise of food. The nectarine tree that is covered with pink blossom guarantees summer mornings eating the fruit straight from the tree. The broad beans that are flowering encourage me to try the broad bean falafels I’ve seen. I pray the 50-plus garlic bulbs are looking as good under the soil as they do out. I see a cauliflower that should be eaten soon, I see silver beet that I will turn into a spanakopita on the weekend. I see the food that my family is going to eat and I feel happy that we are so connected with that food.
These are the reasons I garden and these are the reasons I have built a business around teaching children, families and communities to grow their own food. I want the next generation of children to be able to explore their creativity, I want them to have healthy bodies and minds and I want them to feel connected to the food they eat by growing the food they love. In fact, these are things I want for all of us. So go on, give gardening a try.
Natasha Grogan is a trained Steiner and Conventional Primary School teacher and with qualifications in Horticulture and experience working as a Garden Specialist for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, she started The Sage Garden, and developed home visit programs, where she would build or re-establish veggie gardens for families and teach them how to go about growing their own food. She now offers a range of incursion programs for all ages.
Nourish Melbourne Members, you receive 10% off all private home visits and childcare incursions with The Sage Garden. Find out more here.