We all Belong Here
It’s not unusual to see a volunteer or visitor walking in deep meditation inside one of our crop circles. And it makes sense, of course. There’s something naturally beguiling or invitational about a circle that is a beautiful manifestation of a dozen different interlinking vegetables and herbs, a collection of diverse colours, smells, shapes, and tastes. The reminder that we belong to the generous creation, that we belong to something larger than ourselves, something nurturing and gentle. Something that holds us safely at the centre.
For our Love in a Bowl team, each circle is a deep work of Love, of Prayer, a celebration of diversity, a commitment to the Hope that we shall reach that day when none of us goes hungry, when all of us are welcome in the community. We fundamentally believe that veggies which are nurtured in love become love. And that is the gift we offer back to community members when they eat our gorgeous veggies.
Asking Permission, Proceeding Lightly Upon the Land
As peculiar as it may seem, we ask the land permission to grow veggies on it. It’s part of Ancient practises that have been lost in modern farming. We believe the land is a fundamental part of the circle of life and there needs to be an agreement of participation. Upon receiving the welcome, we draw large circles which are then prepared with our hands and hand tools. We sit with the land, study its soil, stage of life, receptivity to seedlings. And then we begin the slow kneading process of mixing soil and compost with all the natural nourishing elements for growth until we believe the earth is ready to receive seeds and seedlings.
Whenever possible we participate in the notion that Nature has no waste. Everything natural simply takes a new form, once again participating in the great circle of life. So, for example, we receive the garden clippings of Hout Bay yard services. Those clippings, rather than being taken off to a distant landfill instead transform over time into compost which when added to the crop circles eventually become transformed again, now into a carrot or beet and leaf of spinach. The vegetable circles are made up of all this goodness that starts in Hout Bay and ends in Hout Bay – a true circle of life.
Diversity and Strength
For the larger part of the year we are growing up to 24 different vegetables and herbs in our mini-farms. Some of our vegetables are once-off vegetables like a carrot, which after 3 months is harvested. The aubergines, spinach and kale, in contrast, keep providing food daily up to a 12 month period. Once retired, their roots become part of the nutrient-rich soils for another set of seedlings. After every final harvest, we rotate beds, plants and combinations of veggies, always listening to what the earth and the seasons tell us. Each of the large vegetables circles have a variety of different vegetable and herbs growing together at the same time. A beautiful space showcasing the diversity of nature.
Organic vegetables grow as nature intended. They do not need the intervention of poisonous chemicals to survive and thrive. The beauty of the circles is that the more diversity of vegetables and herbs that are in the circle the stronger it becomes both individually and collectively.
We understand the lesson from nature that society can actually be similar. If everyone looks the same and thinks the same this weakens us. We need diversity of thought, people, gender, history and cultures. The more complex we are the better it will be for our future and strength as a community. And so our circles teach us to celebrate all of who we are and to care for every part of who we are.