Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Building Community

Every year we've planted a garden we've tried to start our own plants from seeds, and every year that process has been an almost complete flop. 

Since our germination experiments have all  failed, we bought a lot of plant starts this year from a local market. It's not the most inexpensive place to buy plants in town, but we felt good about supporting a local business, and I realized that by going to this market we were supporting the local business model twofold, because many of the starts they sell are grown right here in Kansas.

As I was planting I contemplated, the idea of independence versus interdependence. One reason why we garden is for a greater sense of independence. A feeling that we don't have to be dependent for our basic needs on large corporations with centers of production far far away from us. There's lots situations where this food distribution model could be a problem. Bad weather, social/political unrest, or fuel prices and availability could all interfere with our ability to receive basic commodities from far away sources. So, we should just provide it all ourselves--right?

Working in my small garden I thought about how at least right now (while the greenhouse of my dreams exists only in my dreams) I'm really just not set up to grow plants from seeds, so I am happy that someone else who is better equipped to do so can provide that for me. I've realized many times along our path to greater self-reliance that it will be impossible for us to ever provide absolutely everything for ourselves, and complete isolation is not what we want, either.

As we work to provide for many of our own needs we are working to get away from a dependance on large businesses and nonsensical models of commodities distribution.  What we would like to participate in is an interdependent relationship with smaller, local businesses.  We need them to provide us with things that we are unable to--yet they also need us and so we are treated with respect and even friendship.  As I worked in the garden I thought that "interdependence" still seemed like too institutional a word for the relationship I was imagining.

A better word is community.  People working together for a joint cause--the cause being the health of the community, or the community's members.  People working hard to provide the things they can, getting help where their abilities fall short, and always supporting those around them.  In a small way, I hope that buying Kansas seedlings from the local market when my own growing attempts have failed, will help to build that community.

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