Monday, March 16, 2009

Deep Roots

I attended the bi-monthly meeting of the Routt County Cattlewomen last night, a local organization I’ve enjoyed being a member for a number of years. The women exercise a kind of “can-do” spirit reminiscent of the old West in their education and promotion of the cattle industry. I appreciate the opportunity to be actively be involved in the RCCW on a scale where individuals are known and find meaning in their efforts to contribute to their community.

One of the items on our meeting’s agenda was the introduction of a new local organization called, Deep Roots, whose purpose is to promote partnerships between community members and organizations who wish to purchase, grow, and support local agricultural products; and to encourage respect for healthy, sustainable ecosystems in the production of food sources in northwest Colorado.

This grassroots effort glimmers with hope. At a time when our modern society’s complexity is buckling under the strain of size and demand to support all its members, the idea that a small group of people can come together and nourish promise in growing gardens in a northern climate with a growing season of sixty to ninety days, is indeed filled with optimism. Armed with a greenhouse, some Routt County residents can extend their growing seasons by four to six weeks depending upon where they live in the county. So, for those four to six months locals can plant, nurture, and harvest what, over a half-century ago, reminds one of a Victory Garden. Those gardens planted by approximately twenty million Americans during World War II produced 40% of the produce consumed nationwide.

Perhaps today, the meaning of a Victory Garden can be transformed into a spirit of hope and optimism over the increasing pressures of a failing financial system, a concerning environmental future, and a society filled with the challenge of providing a sense of community to its members, a sense of autonomy in self-sufficiency, and a sense of the practical need to look in our backyards for sustainability.

I have plans to put up my first greenhouse this spring. It was a promise I made to myself when I returned from Chile and felt the satisfaction of those Chileans who live isolated sustainable lives, producing their produce, meat, eggs, and occasionally cheese and canned goods. Their pace of life allowed for a finer focus on life’s daily rituals and that which nourishes, whether it be a Jerusalem artichoke salad, an afternoon walk, or a visit from far away neighbors. While my life will never resemble theirs, their life reminded me to take notice and to make choices daily about how I choose to go about my day. While their life appeared idyllic, it had its hardships which made the smallest of things sweeter and the smallest of moments more tender.

I hope the efforts of Deep Roots take hold for they have the promise of propagating the same optimism one feels when planting the smallest of seeds in spring. As the group taps into the ingenuity and diverse strengths of individuals and organizations, it will set into motion not only the potential for healthy and economic production of food, but the nourishment and growth of the individual and the ties that bind him or her to the rich soil of a garden bed and the nourishment of a larger community.

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