Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bookshelf: Grassroots Gardening by Donna Schaper

This week I've been reading Grassroots Gardening: Rituals for Sustaining Activism by Donna Schaper. Schaper is a minister and urban gardener who gardens for cheap entertainment, to maintain good health, and to bring communities together. She also gardens because she must: a day without gardening is a bad day.

My favorite quote from the book: "I see no point in living in a world where you can get a bad tomato 24 hours a day." Amen!

What the book has me thinking about: As a society, we've forgotten about "waste not, want not." As a society, we are wasteful. We waste people, we waste resources, we waste ourselves. We let kids slip through the cracks and into lives of crime, illiteracy, and poverty. We'd rather hire a crew to care for our lawns while we pay to go to an air-conditioned health club. We sit (and allow our children to sit) in front of computers, televisions, and video games for way too many hours while our lives slip by, when we could be creating: creating strong families, creating beautiful gardens, creating educated minds.

Schaper goes out of her way to package her coffee grounds and egg shells and drop them off at a community compost collection point. She carries her "compost to Union Station." And she marvels at how few of her fellow New Yorkers do the same. Can you image how much waste could be diverted out of New York City's garbage every day and how rich the community gardens could be? It boggles my mind.

Now, I'm a composter and a bit of a shameless scavenger. I'm the mom who hauls the banana peels home from the Girl Scout camp-out for my roses. I bring home the coffee grounds when there's a meeting in my library. I sometimes bag my apple core from lunch to take home for composting. But Schaper has inspired me to new heights of hauling it home. I've begun packing an empty plastic container in my lunch bag each day to collect the leavings from my lunch, just so that I'm not tempted to trash it because I'm in a hurry or don't want to waste a zippered plastic bag. Waste not, want not!

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