Six and a half years ago–I didn’t think about dirt. Not even a little tiny bit. I thought about the dots per inch in my designs on a computer screen. That 300 pound me thought about food a lot. Yet, I certainly didn’t seem to have any concept of where it came from. I couldn’t even conceptualize the chemical covered dirt that food was grown in at that time.
The 158 pound permaculture farmer that stands here today, on a steep, scrubby 9.87 acres at the tippy top of a mountain… thinks about the glory that is soil all the dang time. I realized it yesterday, as I raked up every little morsel of compost I could get my hands on and tossed it on my garden beds. Soil is my life now… and I’ll never take it for granted or call it simply dirt again. I’d trade it for the fat paycheck I used to get staring at a screen any day of the week. Because I don’t just grow food and flowers in it. The woman I am today got sown and grown in it too.
The soil, it showed me I had just gotten sown in a poorly chosen place… in a monocropped, chemical sprayed row inside a broken system. One that seems to me to have been designed to make me depressed, unhealthy, and overweight. One that seemed to just want me to spend and not sow or grow.
When I hit 300 pounds at 31 years old and my depression hit new heights–I didn’t know what else to do. But I did know, I was fed up. So, I stood up out of that row, shook that nasty stuff off my roots, and said no. I refuse to continue to grow this way. I’ll hoe my own row, thank you very much.
It was hard and slow going. Trying to find a different way. Bushwhacking that path myself. But, the soil–it was always there. Allowing me to grow. A new view of what was possible became clear, as I started to shed those pounds that had weighed me down. I connected to mother nature in ways I never had before, with bare feet and hands digging down into the earth. New eyes started to show me just how much I could grow.
I went through this whole transition with a partner, that grew into a forager and rewilder. My life in the garden has even more balance for it. The time in the forest helps me see how to grow in better ways. How to work with nature and not against it. The forest, marginal spaces, and the edges shows me that is where life happens. It keeps me more connected, it helps to keep me calm.
I feed the soil in my soul by trying my best to share what we’ve learned so far–about how to grow in an organic way. I hope to inspire and empower others to do the same, I pray every day that they will all do even better than we did.
I’ve kept that weight I lost off for almost three years now. I’ve designed a life that keeps me healthier and happier than I ever was before. Granted, I still don’t feel great physically a lot of the time–my body is doing big work, detoxing out 31 years of poor soil. My doctors keep telling me to just keep doing what I’m doing, because it is working for me. To be patient and realize, I’m not done getting regenerated. Yet, I’ve grown the faith that it can continue to heal right here in my garden. I’ve grown an insanely positive attitude too.
So, I keep doing what I’m doing. I keep growing organically. I keep reconnecting to my wilder side. I eat my vegetables and play outside. I laugh and learn a lot. I continue to try to find ways to step outside of the system and into the natural world. I stay eternally grateful–for having had all this time I was already given, to grow. I try not to worry about what could be and focus on living and growing. I don’t take my life for granted, I just live and grow in the right now.
In this humble farmer’s opinion, the planet we’ve all be planted on is in real trouble. Our environment and its soil–it needs our help. It needs us all, to come together and grow. In quite different ways than most of us were planted. In my heart I know it is not too late, we humans–we are such incredibly capable and amazing creatures. There are so darn many of us. If we could just let go of what we were taught and pick up some common sense…. can you imagine what we could cultivate? I can. We can create community with each other and not chaos. If we would be willing to do the work on our environment that it so sorely needs… it has the potential to become an eden we could all eat and live in safely. We could build soil and save our souls. We can truly do so much to help. I know we can do this… we humans, we can come together and grow.
I got contacted by this amazing organization called Kiss the Ground. They wanted me to submit a story about our ability to regenerate land and reverse climate change by building back healthy soil. They are a non-profit that is doing truly great things. I encourage you to follow their page, show your support, or submit your story about how you interact with soil!