Presenting My Gardening Workshop to the Queen

| 4/4/2011 11:50:54 AM

 I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty pumped! I’m doing my “All You Can Eat Gardening Workshop” for the Queen this weekend. Well at least I’m doing it at “The Royal Botanical Gardens” in Hamilton/Burlington. And since it’s “her” botanical gardens, I figure the odds are pretty good she’ll be there. She’s notorious for her spontaneity, just dropping in here and there without warning. She likes that whole low profile “oh I’m really not that special,” no notification, security or entourage kind of appearance.

I sure hope she’s there! It’ll be a huge let down if she’s not. Michelle tells me that I shouldn’t hype these things up and set myself up for disappointment. It’s like when I go to conferences – I’m always hyped about the danishes. You know, the cherry ones with the icing. And the coffee! Even though most of the conferences that I attend don’t have danishes, I continue to look forward to them and set myself up for a let down.

I’m hyped about my gardening workshop because of my breakfast today. I had fruit and granola. And here it goes – I had strawberries. Fresh strawberries. And yes, I’m writing this in April in Ontario and there are no local strawberries at this time of year. I have not had fresh strawberries since last summer. But this week I was shopping and saw some strawberries that looked really good. Usually the strawberries that are shipped here from Florida or California look great but they are lacking in taste. Well these ones weren’t too bad. In fact, they were pretty good. Not as good as local ones in season, but still pretty good. I think it was because they had been sitting in the store for a while long enough to ripen a bit. They looked pretty ripe when I bought them, and in fact, I felt sorry for them and so I bought them. I was afraid that they were going to be tossed in the garbage and wasted. That’s my rationalization. People who try to eat “green” are experts at rationalization. “Well I need those organic shade grown coffee grounds for my blueberry plants, I might as well drink the coffee first and enjoy them.”

So as I was cutting up the strawberries I was really in awe of the miracle that allows me to eat a Florida strawberry in April. The fact that even on my income I can afford this. And the fact that we have the means (refrigerated diesel trucks) to get them to Ontario in time for me to eat them before they go bad boggles my mind. And the fact that farmers have figured out how to grow them to get them here in such good shape is beyond me. Oh, I’m sure they have lots of heavy duty “…cides” on them for them to look so great, and I probably shouldn’t be eating them based on that. But the last time I checked “fruits and vegetables” were a pretty big part of the food chart of stuff you’re supposed to eat. So as much as I try and eat organic, if I had to stay away from all conventionally-grown produce I’d be left with just Mars Bars and Oreo cookies to eat, and I don’t think they have their own food group or are organic.

As I was cutting that strawberry up I have to say I had a little moment when I felt a connection with the farmer that grew it. They put an enormous amount of effort into growing this beautiful piece of fruit. Time, and money, and sweat, and incredible wisdom and knowledge went into producing this treat for me. I was very grateful to that farmer. And very grateful to the person who picked and packed it.

As I was thinking about the work that had gone into producing the strawberries, I was thinking, you know, I have more of a connection to this farmer than most people. I grow food too. And I pull wagons full of beautiful produce out of my garden every summer. At the end of each of my gardening workshops I show photos of some of the things that I’ve grown – broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. I tell my audience “ I can’t paint, and I can’t draw, and I can’t sculpt, but I think that everything that comes out of my garden is art. Everything I grow is a work of art. It’s a little miracle.”

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