What Does this Garden Grow?

The pandemic has brought with it a great many surprises.

Way back in March, we were all surprised by the news about shoppers stockpiling toilet paper. Who would have thought that our initial response to a fast-moving deadly virus would be to ensure a good supply of TP? Grocery stores all over the world reported that there were now empty shelves where toilet tissues had been. The panic was so extreme that NT News in Australian newspaper printed an eight-page blank lift-out with cut lines to be used as loo paper in an emergency.  In an interview with the Guardian, the editor said, This is certainly not a crappy edition. It’s good to note that tough times produce humour as well as innovation!
The next was finding out that stores had run out of flour. So many people — men, women and children — were taking up baking that the stores couldn’t keep up with the demand for flour. Talk about our daily bread — it was everywhere! Every kind of bread. It’s been decades since I’ve heard so much talk about sourdough. Now, each day on Instagram, you can find photos of various sourdough loaves, with many people cooking so many that they have to make regular runs to deliver loaves to neighbours.

Recently we’ve been seeing the line-ups at garden stores and nurseries.  People are digging up their lawns to plant vegetables. Maybe they remember what Margaret Atwood is said to have said: In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. Those who don’t have gardens are planting pots on their windowsills, balconies and patios. My own patio features big pots of lettuce, basil, chives, chard, and even one tomato plant. Last week my friend gave me a large pot of nasturtiums which are sporting red, orange and yellow blossoms, and today I found that my arugula seeds had sprouted, magnificently and almost magically. In the past, I have mostly grown only a couple of spindly geraniums. 

In these uncertain times, food security is a serious concern. Those of us who have private gardens and pots on our patios are fortunate, but for some it’s not so easy. That’s where organizations like Loaves and Fishes and Food Share and other social agencies are making a difference. Here in Nanaimo we’re lucky that the Nanaimo Foundation is overseeing a Community Response fund which is providing support to such organizations and others who may lack food and shelter and key services at this challenging time.  To learn more about what they are doing through funds from the Government of Canada and also donations from our local community, learn more from — 
and maybe you’ll want to contribute to support this important work.

I often think of Minnie Aumonier’s line, When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden. However, our post-pandemic gardening is not merely the result of weariness and dissatisfaction. Rather, it is the product of hope and resilience and creativity and generosity. Some people say they just feel better when they get their hands in the soil. Others talk about liking the feel of the ground beneath their feet. It’s grounding!

The pandemic has brought us many tragic things. Illness, death, economic devastation, fear, anxiety and grief. But it has also provided the gifts of generosity, creativity, day-by-day stamina, surprising resilience and positive new directions.

It’s a great treat to have freshly-picked garden vegetables. There’s nothing quite like a loaf of home-baked bread. And it’s never a bad idea to have a good supply of toilet paper on hand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s