Make Compost, Not War

Make Compost, Not War

by: Avery Elizabeth Hurt

According to an article in the Washington Post, we are in the midst of a boom in home vegetable gardening not seen since 1975. With gas at an all-time high and food prices soaring, it is not hard to see why. But if the motivation is simple, the benefits are more complex. The current boom in home gardening will, we are told, improve our collective health, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help reverse global warming. According to Timothy LaSalle, executive director of the Rodale Institute, organic farming methods even take carbon out of the air and sequester it in the soil. That’s a lot of good things to harvest along with your string beans.

While I agree that gardening will do all this and more, I do not think that these are the most valuable benefits we’ll see as more people pick up seed packet and spade and head out back to plant a garden. A community that nurtures the soil, a people who tend crops, a society in which people grow at least some of their own food is almost by definition a peaceful society. It is, after all, plowshares those metaphorical swords are hammered into. It is all but impossible to be hostile in a garden. The wizard Merlin, as presented by novelist Mary Stewart, says that gardening is “chief of the arts of peace.” An increase in gardening suggests a return to a more peaceful world, for a nation of gardeners cannot be a nation of warriors. Let’s pick up our spades and do the real work of bringing peace to the planet.