Esoteric Library - Learning from Necessity
Esoteric Library Articles

Category : Gardening

Learning from Necessity

{written by : Frank and Vicky Giannangelo}

Article word count : 669 -- Article Id : 521

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As is often the case, we learn more from necessity when we have less.

A few weeks ago, we began cutting the standing dead trees on the hill behind our hogan for firewood. There is snow on the ground and a trail became evident as we climbed up and carried wood down. The wood is all pinon pine, dead from bark beetles that attack trees weakened by drought. The bark is riddled with holes extending into the hard wood, making it easy to strip off the bark where felled.

We wondered if the junipers would take over now that they were not in competition for nutrients and water. We knew they were symbiotic with the pinon, and then we wondered if there might not be fewer junipers!

After the wood was cut, split, and stacked on the porch, we had time to look out across the valley as the sun’s declining rays gave long shadows, vibrant green trees, and defined the sandstone variegation’s vivid colors.

The day before was solstice, the turning point of the sun’s declination. As we looked to the east, we saw the rising full moon just over the horizon on same level as the setting sun, balancing our view of the heavens like weights on an east-west scale. The view gave a comforting feel of cosmic harmony, a state of balance that we all seek in our day-to-day existence.

To bring into alignment all the elements we want included in our diets, three stages must be considered. The first is exoteric. Shoppers generally have no thoughts about food production when selecting produce in the supermarkets. At this level, use of the product is the end goal. Millennia of genetic selection gives way to the selection of more immediate needs, like the evening’s dinner.

The second stage is mesoteric, narrowed from shoppers, to those who have a more direct knowledge and an actual physical association with the food, whether it be the farmer, a seed company employee, or a fertilizer salesman. The physical act of growing food has many facets when going from seed to table.

The third stage is esoteric. At this point, those on the periphery drop away, leaving the grower, who is involved in the whole process. Our gardens place us into an even smaller group with a shared knowledge of seed and soil and how to incorporate them into intricate growing systems.

Having an esoteric understanding of what is going into our bodies gives a greater chance to balance our needs than an exoteric who grabs from the shelf because a product looks “good.”

When spring arrives, gardeners will begin to restore the balance in their gardens; pH levels will be checked, nutrient needs will be adjusted, and all the small additions or subtractions that the gardener feels are needed to provide a prolific equipoise will be carried out.

Recently, North Dakota State University asked us to write a review of a recently published book about small farms in New Mexico titled, Artisan Farming: Lessons, Lore, and Recipes. One of the points made is, that New Mexico lacks two necessities that have prevented large-scale commercial farming: water and soil. The lack of these does not mean there is no agriculture, but what it has spawned are many small growers, those who find out what they can grow, find a market, and supply it. While the plains states with miles of wheat and cornfields fit into the exoteric level, New Mexico is at the esoteric level, abounding with small organic farms, sustainable gardens, and centuries old pueblos with those who understand the need for heritage seed that will produce true to each grower’s special conditions. These local varieties of seed are hoarded, treasured, used in ceremonies, and given as family legacies.

As is often the case, we learn more from necessity when we have less. The proliferation of artisan growers, those skilled in bringing forth food from small fields are on the rise in New Mexico, pursuing recondite methods, some modern, some ancient, proving that even within difficult environments, we can grow.

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