Bounty……a word of interest to me today as I harvest a handful of peas, a few carrots, lettuce and greens. Though satisfying to grow and gather these home-grown veggies, my basket hardly represents what I would call a ‘bounty’, by definition meaning abundance and plenty. We will eat this small harvest in one day. Yet though our veggie patch is small, with only a few harvests total, our garden, perhaps not full of food, is lush and green and looks bountiful.
In the surrounding woods there are red huckleberry bushes laden with berries, other varieties of berries, full of blooms, promise berry harvests yet to come. I am acutely aware that my small basket of pickings, our tiny vegetable bed, the many edible plants around me (most of which I do not even eat), and the eggs our ducks lay, to many in the world would be a bountiful feast.
To have the ‘luxury’ of ones own garden, the ‘privilege’ of growing ones own food, is often rare even in cultures where subsistence living is the mainstay of food supply. Why should growing one’s own food be a luxury or a privilege? Pardon my soap boxing here, but to me growing one’s own food, if able-bodied to do so (which is becoming questionable in this household!) should be a right, a Divine right, unchallengeable, and if necessary protected by law. Most readers are aware of the threat, not only in our country but throughout the world, Monsanto poises as it buys up seed companies, takes farmers to court for saving seed, or using seed not sold by the mega giant in adjacent fields, thus ‘contaminating’ their sterile GMO seeds, (though it is the opposite which is happening) and in general appearing to have as a goal control of the world’s food supply by owning and controlling the world’s seed supply, thus removing from individuals and communities the right to provide nourishment for themselves and destroying subsistence agriculture.
Back to bounty. Is bounty relative? What is ‘plenty’? If plenty means enough, but no more, to live comfortably – whether it is food, shelter, water, the ability to stay warm, or cool, care for elderly, disabled, the ill, it seems that it would not be relative, for most people, though by constitution, climate, physical demands, and other factors, might vary a bit, require, within a range, the same needs. Most of us know that if everyone ‘only’ had plenty, there would be plenty for all. Scarcity, the opposite of plenty is caused by excess. Rarely have I seen Nature produce excess (isn’t that what cancer is?). The fruits of plants left uneaten become seeds for the next generation, or compost to enrich the soil. Even here in the northwest, where often the lush plant growth can seem overabundant, there is a succession of new plant species that thrive in the undergrowth even as others might die from being crowded out. Nature understands balance.
When I see pictures of the village of Tintale, Nepal, where we sponsor a young girl’s education, I see lush fields of corn, cows, goats, chickens, freshly harvest beans. It appears a bountiful place, people have homes, there is a village well. Yet they live a subsistence life style, walking the razor’s edge of Nature’s balance. If Nature is not cooperative, there is not plenty. For those unable to work hard, there is no supermarket to go to. Yet, so far, they do not have to buy Monsanto seed, like remote villages throughout the world, they save their own seeds to plant in their gardens. If there is scarcity it is from Nature, which does not have a policy of control, only the unpredictability inherent in the natural world. Nature may vacillate, but like a pendulum, it swings back to times of plenty.
My small basket of homegrown veggies will be supplemented by locally grown vegetables and fruits, locally made cheese, and, because I am among the ‘privileged’ of the world, store-bought grains. I live in a larger community that is bountiful in that there are many organic growers. I am not dependent on my small patch of garden or my ability to grow. The greatest value of my small harvest is that it connects me to people throughout the world who are working their gardens, planting their fields, harvesting their food, a soul connection necessary for us to feel our oneness, to recognize we all have the same needs, the same ‘right’ to provide for ourselves. In that regard my basket is bountiful.