Seeds grow more than plants

IMG_5006Learning to grow your own food, whether it’s a single pot of herbs on the kitchen counter, or a bigger enterprise, like this, is an empowering activity. When you grow something you can eat, you appreciate all your food just a little more than you did before. For many of us, gardening is a labour of love, and out of tiny seeds, many lessons grow. Here are just a few:

  1. Attention: some gardeners plop seeds or plants in the ground, water, and walk away. If they don’t see something happening immediately, they stop paying attention. They don’t realize that daily attention will help them learn when to water, whether there are pests or problems, or how to recognize the living things they are producing, at each and every stage.
  2. Patience: plants can be fast-growing, and beans, or other species, are useful for first-timers. They show themselves very early. This is why transplants can be helpful in the first-time gardener’s plot. The beets and carrots, on the other hand, make us wait. And wait. But we learn they are worth it.
  3. Resilience: sometimes things don’t work out as we hoped. Gardens teach us to go with the flow. They demonstrate that sometimes we get something more wonderful than we expected, but that there are also disappointments – yet the garden carries on regardless.
  4. Ingenuity and charity: over-abundant plants, whether they are tomatoes, zucchini, or other super-producers, provide us with an opportunity to research ways of preserving them to eat later. They can nourish us in the winter, when food prices escalate, or they are natural, healthy gifts we can share with our friends and family.

Gardens need not be restricted to giant country or suburban plots. Small spaces produce amazing and wonderful amounts of food. Busy lives mean that parents may never have learned to garden, and so can’t pass this valuable skill on to their kids. Fortunately there are dedicated volunteers like the folks at Green Thumbs, who are making sure the gardening knowledge is passed on to new generations of growers. I urge you to click the link and check out these neighbours of mine!


When Should You Walk?

You know my initial response to this question is, “as often as possible”, or “whenever you want”. But there’s more to my question than that. 20161114_115006187_iosLast night I had the privilege of attending a series of presentations by social entrepreneurs from all across Toronto at the Centre for Social Innovation. These women (mostly) and men were focused on how we build healthier communities, and the solutions were as diverse as the presenters. At the event, I was discussing a rule-of-thumb I learned from a Parisienne acquaintance of mine: it’s the one kilometre rule. It works like this: if your errand or appointment is one kilometre or less from where you are, walk. No cab, no bike, no streetcar or metro. Just use your feet.

Sure, you say, that sounds great, but how do I know if it’s a kilometre? Won’t it take long? I’m a busy person! At a brisk pace, but by no means race-walking, a kilometre will take you about ten minutes. So if you walk to the store and back, you’ve gained twenty minutes of exercise that you wouldn’t have done otherwise. How long did you spend waiting for your last public transit, or looking for a parking spot?

It’s worth it for your health and a longer lifespan – instead standing around checking your smartphone, or circling around looking for a parking spot, invest that ten minutes in yourself. Your stronger heart and your clearer head will thank you.