Friday, 26 March 2010

Communication and Organic Gardening

Where did that familiar expression come from: "There's no point in doing something - unless you tell people what you're doing"?

It's an expression which is so important for many of us who are involved with organic gardening initiatives and community gardening on so many levels. You might be an allotment holder who wants to pass on some useful knowledge to a neighbour. You might be a community organisation - large or small - who wants to know how to write a decent press release. However you set about telling people what you're doing - you want to communicate in the best way you can.

My own intensive involvement in organic gardening began a mere five years ago. I wondered why - of all the things I had done in my life - that I didn't have practical gardening skills. When my daughter was born, I began to ask my parents more questions about their parents and I realised that both my mother and my father's family had had allotments.

My father's family had a grand total of three allotments. Every day after school he would go to the allotment site to tend these plots - including the livestock they had - (a goat and lots of rabbits). For them it really was a matter of subsistence. As a boy my father hated doing it and vowed he would never push his own children into fruit and vegetable growing.

So my parents encouraged me on the academic side of things instead- and I didn't come to practical gardening until much later in life. Of course I'd connected up the issues. I worked for Greenpeace Germany's North Sea campaign in my twenties - and as part of the Toxics Team we had a Water Campaign which led a huge initiative to convert every school canteen to organic food. They were really successful - and that was way before Jamie Oliver came along. I'm talking the 1980s here!

The urge to food production coincided too with the birth of my first child. I'm not going to romanticise breast feeding. It can be really hard work. Although it can also make many things a lot easier - nothing to carry if you go travelling - no bottles to wash and usually fewer childhood illnesses. It was the first time I had been solely responsible for another very small human being. And in the case of food production - I was very clearly physically responsible. Your body works very hard then - I couldn't go for one hour without having a snack or a pint glass of water (or two). The summer of 2005 was very, very hot.

I made a direct connection between myself as a human being and the earth then. I'm not romanticising this either, I hope. But the connection was there. The term 'Mother Earth' is often used as an insult in this society - and I heard it myself when I was breastfeeding (someone said to me "but it's okay, you're not the Mother Earth type..."). And that's true - somehow I'm not. I wonder why you never hear the expression "Father Earth"?

Why am I writing this here? Well, where I'm standing just now in my life - I'm faced with lots of important questions - like - how do I communicate some, all, or any of this to a new generation? I'm confronted with this every day as my daughter is just four and a half.

I hope you like this new template. It seems more fitting for Spring. Over the past four and a half years since I became a journalist (and organic gardener) - I've tried to sharpen up my skills. I'd like to do this writing/blogging/photography thing better. And I'd like to be a more efficient and effective gardener.

One of my photographs earned substantial praise from experienced photographers at Shutterpoint recently. Let me know what you think. To see it follow this link:

Shutterpoint. Frances Laing

The contrived tree rends a healthy workload


  1. Very much like the new blog look- much easier to read.

  2. Thanks Willow, appreciate the feedback. Hope you are well.


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