Women in the Garden

Reader Contribution by Darby Weaver and Sun Dog Farm
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As human beings we are all confronted, at times, with someone questioning our worth.  This can come from all aspects of our experience and often times it is happening in more parts of our lives than just one-whether it is our value at our jobs, our role in our family dynamic, the expectations of a partner, or a myriad of other complex societal demands that have us questioning ourselves over what it is we truly bring to the table.  It is the nature of the Universe to ebb and flow, to build something beyond capacity until it is forced to organize a different way, and often we are called to stand up for ourselves in the face of several fronts of doubt. As a woman, I have been coached to shoulder the burden of people’s limited expectations of me and have always been advised to seek the approval or validation from a more qualified man.

It is difficult to stand apart from people’s ideas about who and what you are and at times it has felt nearly impossible to cultivate a sturdy sense of self in the face of so much evaluation.  In our modern, industrialized society, women have been downplayed for their roles in agriculture, trades, and other callings where the patriarchy has built a steadfast ceiling not meant to be broken by ambitious females.  My heart breaks when I consider how the shape of our modern world was actually built and how this prejudice has been even more severe and commonly deadly for Indigenous people, People of Color, and those whose gender identity or sexuality never fit into a cozy, socially mandated box.

Self doubt is insidious in all of our pursuits in this world and I find myself deep in its shadows when fear, rejection, and questioning cast me off of my perch of confidence.  I try to remember that no one is going to love or believe in me if I don’t do a good job of that myself and yet endless faltering is a necessary part of growth. In a world where the fear of failure has kept so many fledglings from taking the leap, I find myself writing a lifelong narrative about why it is I matter, what it is I can do, and why my past mistakes and regrets were necessary for the wisdom I garner today.  Being an ambitious woman I am often held to stricter accountability for the usefulness of my skill sets, the success of my endeavors, and the credibility of my insights. With all of the centuries of women in the garden I am still asked to prove to others that I have the equal physical strength of my male counterparts, even where this is impossible and not true.

Choosing to farm may seem like an act of defiance or as an activism in today’s runaway, industrial culture, and it certainly is.  My manifesto for living on this planet does include verses about spitting in the face of the corporate tyranny that robs the world and its people of the finite resources that bring homeostasis to communities and ecologies alike.  There exists a greater, deeper draw still and it is a difficult resonance to put into words. Identifying as a woman and putting a seed in the ground is some form of communion with the great mother that brought us all forth. A deep healing takes place when I acknowledge the forces that manifest all life on Earth by participating in the miracle myself.  To nurture life into this world is a part of our collective DNA as people and while I may not be respected at the feed store or acknowledged by the elders in my field, I am comforted to the core of my being when nurturing transplants within the quaking womb of spring thaw.

It is a lifelong path for those whose bodies have been weaponized.  Walking the tightrope of masculinity and femininity in the gender binary that judges each of us is difficult in the agriculture sector.  To be too masculine is to be undesirable and therefore unworthy while being too feminine makes it difficult for others to take you seriously.  Being intuitive in the garden may be the connecting fiber that taps the pulse and flow of life but is labeled a liability by those who seek to disregard a woman’s consciousness as emotionality and unpredictability.  The same characteristics that sync women to the rhythm of unfolding nature and could be used to tune to the greater cosmology of life are labeled as inferiorities and handicaps to be overcome. Meeting the requirements of appearance and body shape alone are impossible hurdles that further cut into the prospect of loving ourselves just as we are.

If nature teaches anything, it teaches that all forms and evolutions of masculine and feminine energies are alive and well in the garden of Eden.  The more diversity that can nest atop its growing limbs, the more prosperity and regeneration is possible within the system. As women in the garden, we are fulfilling the wishes of our ancestors and awakening the Earth’s people to what it is we are meant to be.  To value every person from every life experience on this Earth is a gift given to us by the feminine forces of vitality. We all have a role to play here and unfortunately for women and other marginalized communities on our war torn Earth, that role right now is to stand firmly in our truth, lifting each other up in the face of oppression, and speaking loudly about our value until the corporate kings in their plastic castles can hear us.


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