Cultural Revolution Being Planted
Time to Grow! Photo by Charlotte Haworth
Cultural Revolution Being Planted
This Friday, I shall be attending another outing of the May Project Gardens’ (ref) remarkable mix of hip-hop and permaculture ‘Come We Grow’, aimed at helping “educate and empower individuals to live a sustainable and affordable lifestyle” (2).
Friday’s event, entitled ‘Awaken Your Eco Spirit’ and hosted by Passing Clouds (3) in Dalston, London, is specifically a fundraiser for a new course which will be held at the may Project Gardens site in Morden, South London, called “Food, Hip Hop, and the Green Economy” (2).
With such messages of cultural growth and exploration of sustainable lifestyles, it seems the perfect soil for the Abundance Garden seed-bomb workshop ‘Creating Explosives Together’, which I shall be facilitating on Friday.
What have seed bombs got to do with culture? How can making them help us explore our boundaries and maybe go beyond them? Or, put more simply, what are seedbombs and why would I want to go to a workshop about them?
For the answers to these questions you may just have to come along to the event. But to give you some idea beforehand, or for anyone who can’t make it this time, I shall give a few hints, pontifications and ideas below.
Why seed bombs?
A seed bomb is a little ball of compost, clay, and (you guessed it) seeds, which is usually left to dry to create a hard sphere around the size of a large marble. The idea of seed bombs, at its most basic level, is to create the perfect environment for the seeds to germinate within the ball, so that wherever the ball is deposited, the seeds have a very good chance of growing just there.
Seed bombs are not an Abundance Garden invention; nor are they even a new idea. Apparently, Japanese farmers have been using seedbombs for centuries if not millennia, simply as a way of sowing seeds in their fields to give the crops more of a chance of survival.
They have been popularised in the West over the last few decades by, among others, ‘Natural Farming’ practitioner Masanobu Fukuoka, who, in The One Straw Revolution, speaks of “the ultimate goal of farming” as “not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings” (5).
Such recognition of our intimate relationship with growing things, not just to fulfil our survival needs but as an integral part of human culture, is key to the cultivation of a healthy future for humans and the planet. Human ‘growth’ has come to mean, in some circles, the utilisation of technology to narrow our sensory perception and unbalance the natural forces of which we are a part. Yet, as David Abram (1996) puts it,
“We are human only in contact and conviviality with what is not human” (6);
it is clear that there are many other ways of growing which are more true to our own nature – which can harmonise easily with all other organisms on earth if we let it.
One example of humans growing in healthier ways is the utilisation of seed bombs as part of ‘guerilla gardening’: the cultivation of land which does not necessarily ‘belong’ to you, or indeed anyone (gardening of industrial wasteland, for example). Seedbombs are perfect for this type of gardening as they require little effort and, if you choose your species of seeds carefully, little or no maintenance as the plants can take care of themselves.
Imagining New Ways
‘Come We Grow’ is about coming together to help to grow. When we do this we can recognise that perhaps there are some aspects of our culture which we wish not to take part in. we may want to go against that which has grown us. However, as Fukuoka puts it,
“I believe that even ‘returning-to-nature’ and anti pollution activities, no matter how commendable, are not moving toward a genuine solution if they are carried out solely in reaction to the over development of the present age.” (4)
It is not enough to go against that which we do not like; the important actions which we need to take are the creation and encouragement of whichever culture we wish to be a part of in an evolving world. Yet we have to start from where we are, and with the people, plants, animals, spirits and machines which are around us right now.
Though it may seem small and insignificant, a seedbomb can encapsulate all of this: the hope and delight of cultivating something new and surprising, yet rooted in the soil of our own present.
Come and explore for yourself, if you like.
- May Project Gardens, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://mayprojectgardens5.wix.com/may-project-gardens#!about_us/csgz – retrieved 21/5/15
- May Project Gardens, 2015. ‘Come We Grow: Awaken Your Eco-Spirit’ Event Description. https://www.facebook.com/events/385840414941697/
- Passing Clouds, 2015. ‘About’. http://www.passingclouds.org/about/
- Fukuoka, M, 1978. The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, translators Chris Pearce, Tsune Kurosawa and Larry Korn, Rodale Press.
- Abram, D, 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous. Random House: New York