“Conservation is a state of harmony between man and land.” -Aldo Leopold

The season of fall is a time of reflection for me as the garden pulls inward preparing for winter and rest. As I work in the garden thoughts of our own relations to land come to mind with the realization of its increasingly eroding nature that strains our connection to the earth. This strained relationship is reflected in the damage we see to the land and I’ve begun to wonder how we can make our relations with the earth meaningful? How can we cultivate reciprocity with the land?

I find reciprocity with the land by seeking connection, whether that is tending a garden or cultivating gratitude for our earth. All year the garden has provided innumerable gifts of nourishing foods and medicines. The act of a gift establishes an ongoing relationship whereby what I take must also be given back, this is the idea of reciprocity. In this sense I’m providing for future harvests and future gifts, sustaining the cycle and sustaining myself in the process.

In the garden during this time this means I am actively mulching and adding compost, protecting and nourishing the soil and helping hold water, preventing runoff and soil erosion. This is also the season for deadheading as I cut back spent blooms, aiding the shift of the plant to winter dormancy. Fall has also been a time for dividing bulbs and planting new bulbs, ensuring early spring flowers (admittedly for myself, but I like to think the garden appreciates it as well).

When I view the plants from the garden as gifts I am actively choosing to engage in a relationship, one that is sacred to me. It is easy to come to terms with the understanding that I love the earth. It took me much longer to understand that the earth loves us, and shows this with its innumerable gifts. May we receive these gifts with humble gratitude and the willingness to give back what we take.

-With Love from the Garden

Shannon