What Does Gardening Have to Do with the #Occupy Movement?


Colleen Vanderlinden
November 21, 2011

Robert T. Bell/CC BY 2.0

My colleagues here at TreeHugger have done an amazing job covering the #Occupy movement. Chris has looked into the idea of #Occupy being a building block to a Constitutional Convention. Lloyd has discussed the issue of police brutality, and Sami has looked at the misconceptions people have about the movement.

I’m here, as always, to look at it with a gardener’s eye. (Stay with me.)

A few weeks ago, my friend and fellow garden writer Mr. Brown Thumb started the #OccupyGardens hashtag on Twitter, kind of as a joke. But the more I looked at it, the more it made sense. Occupy is about fighting greed, about taking control from the corporations and their government cronies and bringing it back to we the people, the 99%.

What is more basic to all of our needs than food?

In Jenna Woginrich’s excellent book, Made from Scratch, she argues that:

“Vegetable gardening has been called ‘the peaceful sedition’ because at the most basic level, when a person can feed and shelter herself, she doesn’t require a government to provide for her. … It’s not about pride or independence, or even connecting with nature. It’s about wanting hash browns on a Saturday morning and being able to run out to the backyard in your bathrobe to grab some potatoes from the garden.”

I would argue that, even more, it means that she doesn’t need a corporation to provide for her. And when we don’t need the corporations, they cease to have the ability to exist — or at least cease to have so much power that the will of the people means nothing. Look at the way we’re fighting for something as simple, as self-explanatory, as GMO labeling. 87 percent of Americans want to know if they’re eating GMOs or not. The hubris of corporate America, and their Congressional lapdogs, is what is keeping us from that knowledge.

“Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks.” — Ian Hamilton Finlay

This is how I’ve come to see my garden, bit by bit, over the years. Where others see a peaceful place to while away a summer afternoon, I see a full arsenal in my fight against corporatocracy. The shake of a seed packet is my chant; rows of chard and beds of potatoes are my weapons.

Roger Doiron, of Kitchen Gardeners International, recently gave a TEDx talk about the power of gardening. It is definitely worth a look:

Every bite of food we grow ourselves, every forkful that comes from our own labor instead of from the troughs of corporate food, is a statement that we are taking our power back. We don’t need them to feed us. Whether from our garden, our farmer’s market, or our local CSA, we can feed ourselves.

#Occupy Wall Street, and L.A., and Detroit. But #Occupy the garden, as well.

Want to get started?


Online Hub Could Become the ‘Fresh Direct’ of Locally Grown Food


Brian Merchant
Via- Treehugger 
October 25, 2011

tami.vroma via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Local Orbit founder Erika Block believes that more restaurants and shops would stock locally-sourced food — if only the process of tracking it down and arranging distribution were easier. As of now, Block says, a chef, shop owner, or determined local eater must maintain many disparate relationships with farmers and producers in order to make sure all of the ingredients they need make it into the kitchen or onto the shelves. Local Orbit, an online hub that streamlines the connections between buyers and growers, seeks to provide the missing link that makes the process easier and much more efficient.

I sat down with Block at this year’s Poptech conference; as a social innovation fellow, she delivered a talk about how Local Orbit could broaden the horizons of possibility for local food markets everywhere. She sat down with me for an interview, and we discussed all of the above:

CLICK HERE to watch the Interview

Great Day Off

Great day off, mowed the yard, hit the Grassroots Market for those awesome eggs, hit the library, then crazy day setting up 3 computers; one to work on my cookbook which has to be on Windows XP until I successfully migrate it all in to another format.  The other the work computer and then my laptop.  They all can share a larger monitor, dual on each machine.  Finally sweet set-up and organization…worked on book all day.  A 30 Day menu Plan, with recipes… 

Transplanted a hydrangea that needed more sunlight, picked a rainy day…easier on the plant, saves water.  A third of my back yard is ground cover as opposed to grass, it’s wonderful; doesn’t grow very high, just spreads, it’s soft, mostly some type of philodendron and ferns, and some type of ivy.  I love it AND I don’t have to water it!  The oaks trees are over most of it and it so easy to take care of.  I am planting a meadow garden in the front yard for many of the same reasons; mow once a year, low maintenance, stunningly beautiful…


I so miss my huge old growth hydrangeas from old house, but love the new place enough to make up for it.   The bougainvillea is spreading up the trellis, I’m letting it spread out more for now, letting the sun hit the front window all winter…then let it run up the trellis in spring, a green curtain.  Help keep the place cooler. 


The tomatoes are flowering like crazy, I started them late this year, moving and all…The succulents are spreading like crazy.  All this rain has been awesome…seems like a few years since we got this much steady rain…I am loving it. Rain barrels are full and have played in it a few times..life is great!

Now roasting a chicken with butter and lemon zest, plenty of pepper, along with an eggplant for baba ganoush.  Tomorrow both chicken carcasses from this week will go to make stock. Yum… Putting coconut milk yogurt on, will wake up to it being ready.  Gonna be great with blueberries! 

Morning Glory

I have been planting Morning Glories for two years…they never bloomed.  When I moved a few months ago I moved the whole vine that I had by the front door.  I had it growing up a chain so it was easy to move.

The morning after I slept in the new house for the first time, while still moving…I woke up to a Morning Glories blooming by my front door!  My landlord said it was a sign..a great sign that I was meant to be in my new home.  I love it here.

I woke up this morning feeling excited about the storm we were having..Hurricane Irene…figured we’d get some great rain.  I looked up and as the sun was coming up it was shining through the front window..and I saw the Morning Glories..

Morning Glory

I picked Swiss Chard for dinner, first since I moved…plant really took off!   

Swiss Chard


I am delighted with the Malabar Spinach, never heard of it before, ordered it from Neem Tree farms (where I buy my Neem tooth Powder…love it!)    It is a delicate tasting green..easy to grow.

Malabar Spinach


I’ll be digging up these sweet potatoes in a month or so…my first!  I already have more sprouted, will start another barrel soon.  Cool thing about sweet potatoes is when they don’t get enough water, they lie dormant…then start growing again when they get water.  Gotta love it!

Sweet Potatoes 8.26.11

Strawberries are growing, no berries yet.   The onions and herbs have sprouted…will get into growing containers in a few days.  The lettuces are about 1 1/2 inch high.  Gotta plant more greens; beets, Swiss chard, spinach.   

I am thrilled to get the compost going again…1 year to more soil…arrgghh, buying potting soil again, hate it.  But I have plenty of compost from the old house for soil amendment, won’t need to buy fertilizer at least.   And having the cute little bunny helps with that!  Next project is to build him a little run in the back yard..

Bunny wabbit