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Gardening: who or what is to be blamed for some ‘isle folks’ refusal to continue 'gardening'?

To a certain extent, it causes me a degree of sadness, when I read or hear that by personal choice, gardening agricultural land is left ‘deliberately unused’ by some folks who no longer want to be associated with mundane ‘gardening’. I raised my own personal communal questions as to the reason or reasons why some’ isle’ folks in 2015, are reluctant by personal choice, I hasten to add, to continue with maybe their family legacy of going to the garden, and participating in growing foods for themselves and their family, and I have used the word ‘some’ folks. I am aware of the fact that some folks do not have access to ‘agricultural land’, but some folks do have family associative land or lands and are showing no interest in using the land to grow things – preferring to use maybe their ‘new jobs’ created by new qualifications inclusive of the additional benefits of family money to buy alternative foodstuffs, or awaiting overseas barrels with edible goodies. Are the isles so affluent that some folks can shun gardening? Are some overseas returnees to the isles to be blamed? the new professional pride?

Regardless of my socio-economic situation, I love gardening, at the moment, I am monitoring my okra and chilli peppers seedlings. Here where I live, I saw a notice requesting volunteers for the monastery garden, I knocked the door, the old priest, who tended the garden to a high standard, no longer can cope with it, and asked for volunteers to keep the garden in order. As I approached him, he looked at me… Have you done any weeding before? I said, yes, father, loads! Have you done any gardening before, he asked? Loads father, I told him about my relatives gardening pursuits on their lands. Done, he said, nice to have an expert gardener on board, when can you can start, Saturday morning, I replied!

Due to the economic austerity pressures, many families in the affluent countries, are reverting to growing some vegetables to curb rising prices, and have sources of organic foods. Whilst others are shunning their family legacy of 'going to the garden', for whatever reasons, one may be pride or the sheer dependence on the generosity of others to put food in their mouths!

As a child, I had relatives who were faithful gardeners,bless them, we were never short of any ‘cooking pot’ provisions, such as sweet potatoes, soft yams, dasheen, callaloo, tomatoes , pumpkin, corn, the list is endless. My gran-aunts or elderly gran-uncles cutlass in their hands, stringed wornout bags over their shoulders, their colourwashed out clothes , barefooted, would be seen strolling up to their gardens to plant and to joyfully reap produce, sometimes a long, could be two hours lonely but safe walk or trek, crossing ravines and streams. Their ‘gardens’ about two acres of fertile land, I recall accompanying them, and as I venture up a hillslope, I would grab mandarins off the low branches, to their cries of ‘come on, it does not belong to us’ – oh the joys of going up to the gardens and the scrumptious juicy fruits awaiting pulling off the branches, probably all fenced off now! As a family we all benefited from their efforts and so did members of the extended community.

So why are some of the ‘isle’ folks turning up their noses by choice to ‘going to the garden’ or doing any form of gardening, in favour of some maybe ‘man made’ jobs. In this global, unpredicted societal of events, how secure are ‘man made’ jobs? Now as a child, I recall folks working as teachers, fishermen, nursing, postmistress, men working for the water board, wooden bus drivers, and of course the ‘gardeners’ going to the town market on a Saturday to sell their excess produce, I overheard adult conversation of ..so and so got a job in the bank…but that did not stop folks family members continuing with their gardening role. On the contrary, I recall one of my gran-aunts telling my Gran, of the time when she had a bumper pigeon peas harvest, and told a non-garden land owner, neighbour to let one of her 'adult daughters' to come to the garden with her to pick some peas and then return home. The neighbour stayed at home 'adult daughter' in question, blatantly refused to accompanied my aunt for the pigeon peas! God forgets nothing, and I too, forgets nothing!

Despite all these things, a significant amount of folks still, like my faithful relatives, cutlass in hand, bag over their shoulder merrily go to their gardens on a weekly basis, walking long distances from their homes before the morning dew evaporated - I know because as a young girl, with my Gran, during school holidays we accompanied two of my gran-aunts and gran-uncles to their gardens, picking up my quota of nutmegs, putting seeds into the damp soil, helping with the weeding, going down to the crystal clear stream within their sight to bring up bottles of water and disturbing the swarm of crayfishes! I recall the joys of the final homeward stretch, with bananas or soursops to put to ripe – and watching my Gran peel the sweet potatoes and the yams for the evening meal. And me pondering, whether there will be mandarins on the tree, when I next visit to the ‘garden!