The FLX Garden: Garden Planning with Robin Wall Kimmerer

As we plan our gardens and dream of abundance to come, dominant culture feeds us these common questions: What do I want to grow? If I want 40 quarts of tomato sauce, how many tomatoes do I need to plant?
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Photo: Carole Topalian

By Petra Page-Mann of Fruition Seeds

As we plan our gardens and dream of abundance to come, dominant culture feeds us these common questions: What do I want to grow? If I want 40 quarts of tomato sauce, how many tomatoes do I need to plant? How do I prevent disease—and keep out the rabbits?

Perhaps there is another way to begin. 

What if we focused our efforts and energy on not only the logistics of how to grow a garden, but also on the questions of why, with whom, and for whom?

In this spirit, we at Fruition Seeds reached out to Robin Wall Kimmerer, a mother, plant ecologist, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and brilliant indigenous voice right here just outside of Syracuse. 

In her expansive essay The Serviceberry, Robin invites us to reimagine the abundance of the Earth as gifts rather than objects to possess. The Serviceberry, or Juneberry, is a small native tree with many other names, such as Amelanchier arborea, as well as other gifts for the world. Inspired by the serviceberry, how might we plan our gardens differently? Instead of simply asking, “What do I want to harvest from my garden?” what if we asked, “How can this garden nourish and connect our community?”

We love these words from Robin:

“I think that the Serviceberries show us another model, one based upon reciprocity rather than accumulation, where wealth and security come from the quality of your relationships, not from the illusion of self-sufficiency. Without gift relationships with bees and birds, Serviceberries would disappear from the planet. Even if they hoarded abundance, perching atop the wealth ladder, they would not save themselves from the fate of extinction if their partners did not share in that abundance. Hoarding won’t save us either. All flourishing is mutual.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer. (Photo by Dale Kakkak)

Has the idea of self-sufficiency and talk of “your” garden limited the potential of the garden you plant? What would change if you thought of “your garden” as “our garden”? Who does “our” bring to mind for you? Who in your immediate community would benefit most from the gifts of your garden? How can you plan your garden to bestow such gifts? Consider beings with two legs, four legs, hundreds of legs and no legs!

This is just a taste of the reflections & opportunities to grow in a Garden Planning Guide with Robin Wall Kimmerer that we’ve created and Friends, we’re so grateful to share it with you. Download it for free at www.fruitionseeds.com, under Learn, under Growing Ourselves and thanks for sharing it with people you love!

Indeed, Robin helps us notice we have a crucial choice to make: we can accept what we’ve been told about the world (that economies are built on scarcity, that competition should drive interaction), or, as she suggests, we can build our lives around a different kind of economy, one founded on abundance and reciprocity. 

This is part of a larger offering we’re calling Growing Our Gardens, Growing Ourselves at fruitionseeds.com; each month we’re exploring our gardens accompanied by wise and often BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color) voices. We’re honored to begin this February, garden planning with Robin Wall Kimmerer.

If you’re hungry for a ‘practical’ guide to garden planning, enjoy Fruition’s Guide to Garden Planning on our blog and hop into our calendar to join one (or any!) of our many free garden planning and seed starting virtual gatherings. Hope to ‘see’ you soon and we look so forward to sharing the farm in Naples with you one day, as well!

Sow Seeds & Sing Songs,

Petra & the whole Fruition Crew

Petra Page-Mann, Finger Lakes native and lifelong gardener, believes each seed — and each of us — are in the world to transform the world. She co-founded Fruition Seeds in 2012 to grow and share the seeds as well as inspiration we need to surround ourselves with abundance in short seasons. Download her planting calendar or join the online Seed Starting Academy for free at www.fruitionseeds.com.

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