A gardener or farmer’s relationship with a tool goes well beyond practical utility. If a tool lasts long enough and has accompanied you through enough laborious jobs, trust and adoration begins. Perhaps it is because there are so many poorly made tools out there. One certainly comes to expect short-term relationships; in the world of horticulture, the peaceful stepping stone paths are paved with broken and shattered handles.
My first love affair was with a Razorback trenching shovel. The v-shaped spade was red, with a 5” wide blade that cut the soil with truth and beauty. The pointed tip expertly slashed through hard ground, tough tree roots, and bound sod. The wooden handle could withstand amazing amounts of torque and offered me all the leverage I could ask for. This shovel spoke to me so much so that I etched “trust me” at the base of the wooden shaft. My love for Old Trusty grew as my use of him diversified. I began using him for jobs normally undertaken by rakes, pitchforks, and pick axes. He was never far from reach. I took him camping, not for practicality, but because he loved the mountain air.
Aphids are tiny insects that feed on a variety of different garden vegetables by sucking the sap out of their leaves. They come in a variety of colors, including red, green, grey, white, brown, and black. Aphids are both extremely common and difficult to control, due to their symbiotic relationship with ants and their astonishing ability to reproduce. Even worse, according to the UC Cooperative Extension’s excellent book on pest control, Pests of the Garden and Small Farm, “nearly every vegetable plant and fruit tree has one or more aphid species that occasionally feed on it.”
Why is there such a deep emotional release in destruction? For the most part, we can suppress our urge for chaos, but it fights through the thin veneer of civilized life. Crowds gather to watch buildings implode. Our appetite for mishaps and ruination can be documented by our fascination with reality television. Traffic jams are caused not only by accidents, but those slowing to gawk at the bent and tangled vehicles. Starting in childhood, there is an innate desire to wreak havoc. The sand castle is meticulously built, then gleefully stomped and kicked back to its basic granular beginnings. The paper shredder gives an adult opportunity to slowly watch words become wastepaper. If you deny our inherent pleasure in destroying, I challenge you to find someone who derives no pleasure for extinguishing the life of helpless bubble wrap.
Editor's note: This is Part I of a series of posts about the experience of installing a Farmscape garden. Keep your eyes on the Farmscape blog for future posts in the series.
I have a confession. I have worked at Farmscape for two years and I’ve never had a vegetable garden. Don’t worry, Farmscape doesn’t send me on weekly garden runs. I work in the marketing department and occasionally tag along on runs with our expert urban farmers when I need a reason to get out of the office.
My complicated relationship with food began before my work with Farmscape. I grew up in Iowa, where farming and food were frequent and even unavoidable topics of conversation, yet I gave both matters very little thought. I also grew up with two doctors for parents, which should have meant I was the healthiest kid around. Unfortunately, my parents were not especially concerned with healthy eating, good food, or gardening. It wasn’t that they were bad parents, but in my family food was always seen as merely necessary. It wasn’t healthy, unhealthy, a luxury, local, or processed--food was merely calories that allowed you to continue living. I often ate McDonald’s twice a day, ordered pizza, walked past the aisles of green produce. My brother had a lizard and he fed it kale. Did you know that people can eat kale too?