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Backyard Organic Bounty
by By Marilyn Francis

As springtime once again awakens the deep forces in the soul of the passionate gardener, the urgent desire to get seeds in the ground takes over. Seed catalogs are spread out on the floor, garden sketches and schedules are quickly filling in available spaces in the garden. The exquisite beauty of the spring flowering bulbs, trees and bushes further inspires one to awaken to the natural wonders that are beckoning just beyond the back door.

The organic home garden is indeed an oasis of fresh, wholesome taste and nutrition in this age of genetically engineered, irradiated, waxed, stored and overly processed foods. In their popular book The Good Life, Scott & Helen Nearing show us by example that it is not only possible but highly desirable to live off the land and be self-sufficient. They completely supported themselves in Vermont and Massachusetts by building their own stone houses, growing and eating food from their gardens, and trading labor and resources such as wood and maple syrup for a few items like olive oil and walnuts they didn't produce themselves. Scott lived to be 100 and Helen well into her 90's, both leaving a legacy of books and articles that document their rich experiences for over 60 years after leaving New York City in the '30s to get "back to the land."

In the Findhorn community in Scotland, the Caddys and their companions were advised by their spiritual guides to eat only food they grew themselves. This was to help gain additional spiritual attunement that would be needed for the emerging community, and would be provided by the devas through the plants. Thus the Findhorn Community was founded and still flourishes today.

In 1924 the clairvoyant Rudolf Steiner taught what is known as the "Agriculture Course," and from these classes the spiritual gardening methods called Biodynamics evolved. Also the worldwide Anthroposophical Society holds meetings and study groups for Steiner's many books, and the Waldorf Schools, inspired by Steiner's perceptions of the spiritual human being, focuses on educating the whole person ­ physical and spiritual. According to Steiner's indications, Biodynamic gardening uses particular herbal preparations and cosmic cycles to enliven the soil and restore fertility, providing valuable vitamins and trace minerals that are so often missing in store-bought produce.

For me there is nothing quite so satisfying as "grazing" out in the garden ... a few sugar snap peas here, a handful of raspberries there, some leaves of spinach or mizuna, bright green and so tasty. Over here are some basil varieties of cinnamon and opal, along with cilantro, tarragon and sprinkles of edible flowers like pineapple sage, nasturtiums and borage adding splashes of color around the place. The sensitive gardener may recognize that the devas and nature spirits have infused the balanced garden with all we need for physical and spiritual nourishment.

There are many community garden efforts around the Portland area. At our Rose City Organics garden in NE Portland, we are offering a work/share plan this year which we call An Hour a Pound. For each hour of upkeep in the raised beds, orchard or landscaping, a pound, bunch or basket of organic produce may be taken from a variety of seasonal choices. Also we can provide resources for starting backyard gardens and raised beds, compost suggestions, vermiculture (earthworms), and offer information on the wheatgrass and sprouts rejuvenation system.

Here's to your health and a delicious, fragrant and beautiful spring!

For a leaflet describing garden activities and produce available, contact Marilyn Francis at: 503-287-1986.
Marilyn & husband Sid are also typesetters for Community ConneXion.

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