Finding Hope for Climate in My Parents' Garden

man gardening

Written by Monique Jones, the founder/blogger for Just Add Color, a blog that covers issues of inclusivity in media and popular culture. Jones also writes for Shadow and Act, Mediaversity Reviews, SlashFilm, Comic Book Resources and SyFyWire. You can read all of her freelance articles at her MuckRack page. She can also be found on Rotten Tomatoes as a Rotten Tomatoes-certified critic.  

If you’re alive and read the news, you’re probably worried sick about the amount of terrible climate change news that seems to come out every week. Things might seem bleak, but thankfully, there’s hope! That hope comes in the form of something that’s not expensive, tedious, or hard to enact. All you have to do is grow a garden. 

You’d be surprised how gardening is the solution that’s right under our nose. For a few months now,  especially after the latest IPCC report, I’ve been on edge about the state of the world. Would we ever do what we need to do to mitigate or even reverse climate change? I’ve developed a lot of ideas about what I feel news reporters, financiers, scientists, and the average layperson could do.  

That’s why I was so surprised and inspired when I saw Green America’s video with Ron Finley and Rosario Dawson about using regenerative agriculture to help combat climate change. One aspect I liked about it is the focus on a solution that can empower people and balance out negative coverage of the world’s problems, which can make people feel despondent, scared, sad, and at worst, force them into denial. I’d been wrestling with a lot of these feelings primarily because finding articles about common-sense and scientific solutions are few and far between. My theory is that it’s easier to sell the negative because, that’s what the news media has geared themselves towards in the past few decades. 

That’s the background for my story about gardening. Throughout my inner turmoil, about the state of the state of the planet, my parents were doing their best to calm me down. One thing both my mom and dad said, is that gardening is a great and easy solution for the planet. “I’ve probably knocked out all of our emissions just by making this garden,” my dad joked at one point, gesturing to the garden he was working in. 

My dad’s vegetable garden is something he utilizes to ease his stress from work and from the everyday issues of life. His garden includes various seasonal foodstuffs–tomatoes, peaches, bell peppers, chili peppers, and okra in the spring and summer, and collard greens, carrots, and surprisingly, lemons and oranges in the fall and winter. Along with his peach tree, he also works on his pear tree, apple tree, and his and my mom’s new addition--a fig tree. Now, my dad is planning on adding strawberries as well as other fruits and vegetables in his ongoing garden expansion project, which now includes an unused clearing in our backyard.  

My family has eaten the food from this garden for years now, and it’s just one of the many gardens my dad has made that we’ve eaten from, tended to, or enjoyed in some way. At almost every house we’ve lived at, my dad would make a garden. If it wasn’t tomatoes, it was flowers. If it wasn’t flowers, it was potatoes. If I wasn’t outside with my dad in his garden, I’d be in the house helping my mom water her many numerous indoors plants. For my entire life, I’ve been surrounded by plants in some way, shape or form. They’re almost like additional family members to me, so much so that I say “Sorry” to them if I accidentally bump into them at my parents’ house. I’ve even got designs to make my own garden, and I’ve started taking care of my first plant, an orchid. 

However, even though my entire life history has been tied up in plants, I didn’t realize how necessary gardens could be to changing the environment. In fact, I actively discounted my dad’s statement about the power of gardens. I was too ready to throw in the towel on climate change to hear exactly what he was saying. 

Imagine my surprise to stumble upon Green America when trying to, once again, find some solutions for climate change. I’d read about regenerative planting before, but I still wasn’t sure how big the widespread change a garden–or many gardens–could have. However, what I’ve read on Green America’s site has proved my dad absolutely right: Gardens can have the power to save the world. 

So long story short, if you’ve got the room to make a Climate Victory Garden for climate change, DO IT! Even if you’ve got a little windowbox garden of herbs, that’s better than nothing. Creating a garden is inexpensive and fun, and just think of the multiple boons you’ll receive from a garden: you’ll have a personal supply of fresh, pesticide-free food, support the plant and animal ecosystems around you, and you’ll have the feelings of happiness and joy from reconnecting with the earth. My dad and my family get tons of benefits from gardening, and I’m sure you will, too. 

 

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