Most of us live by seasonal time. It's instinctive. Spring is for planting, summer for growth, fall for harvest, and winter for rest and contemplation. There is a little of the gardener in every one of us.
Growing our own food is deeply embedded in our culture, so it's natural that our social habits focus around food: finding it, tending it, preparing and sharing it. We have evolved to garden in community.
The idea of community gardening appeals to me because it puts the skills and tasks for sustenance into a social context. At it's best, a community garden is a microcosm of society: people from all walks of life participate; common problems are addressed; opportunities to learn abound and risk- taking is shared. Drought and misfortune may prevail at times but there's also success, even bounty to celebrate.
Gardeners are among the wisest people I know, and not just because gardening is a skill learned through observation, imitation, experimentation and the exercise of patience. Gardening becomes a way of life, a way of looking at the world-- even when we don't need to produce our own food.
A friend of mine who has Asperger's Syndrome recently taught me something new about community gardening: that inclusion in the garden--being part of a living network or people, plants and other creatures--helps to satisfy a very basic human need for fellowship and support. The act of gardening, doing simple tasks in common, is especially important for people who may not have an equal chance to participate in the wider society.
Judith Wright is a Canadian writer interested in ordinary wisdom, that is, insight gained through everyday experience, shared with the wider world.