In June or July I signed up for the “Grow Your Own Food” summit. Everyday I had 4 new recordings with experts on growing food to listen to right in my email inbox. I have learned to sign up for these things, because the ones I have, have changed my life. Weirdly enough.
One of these experts is Paul Gautschi. He is the “star” of a documentary Back To Eden. Immediately I enjoyed listening to him and only a couple of days later I went to the website backtoedenfilm.com and watched the 1 hour and 45 minute documentary. And then I watched it with my kids, then my husband, then my kids watched it again on their own. We were fans.
Here’s the greatest news ever….his garden and home is only a 2 hour drive from me in WA. Here’s even better news, he does tours every Sunday from June-November. I sent him a letter, he called me the very next day. I love this guy.
Why? Why do I love this guy who grows his own food and responds to letters the very next day? A few reasons, a few reasons that I hope I can write as poetically as I feel them, because there is something intangible and indescribable about these few reasons.
1) Paul, in my opinion, is a very spiritual and faithful person. If you watch the film, you will understand exactly what I mean. He quotes bible scripture the whole time and discusses his conversations with God. Some people will be totally turned off by this, but what I enjoyed is that there didn’t seem to be any religion involved, no doctrine, no converting. Just a faithful person sharing his spiritual experience. He asked a question out of desperation and the rest of the story is about what the answer was.
2) It is very, very common sense. I don’t mean conventional common sense, those two words don’t really mean anything to me any more. Except when they really do. He describes growing a garden and providing your own food as something we were all born with the knowledge to do, something that we have the common sense to do.
I have taken his tour, it was 3 hours long, and I think we left early. So, I have gotten some additional information about his philosophy. He means we have the ability (the common sense) to listen to the earth, pay close attention, think deeply about and care deeply about what is already here for us. We aren’t inventing anything here, with our cute little gardens. If we can do this with respect for the dirt, the water, the micro organisms, the sun, with patience and a quieted spirit, we will have all the knowledge that we need.
This is important to me because…it mirrors how I have always felt (about a lot of things, not just growing food) and not really known how to express.
3) He doesn’t pull any punches. Usually this is not my favorite trait in another person, but this time I really like it. He expresses how he feels and that’s it. Take it or leave it. And considering he has had many PhD.’s try his technique and test the ph of his soil and many people test his food with conventional wisdom defying results, I will take it.
4) This is just a frivolous reason, one that validated me personally as a homeschooling mom. He thinks school is making us dumber. Now, I will say, I don’t believe school is making us dumber. But as a society we have gotten very far from knowing and trusting what is hard-wired into us. He talks a lot about the earth having a skin, just like us. The earth needs a skin, something covering the vital organs and life of the earth. Most of the farming and landscaping is stripping the skin right off the earth, exposing it to the elements and therefore killing it.
5) He obviously cares very much about what he is doing. He is not making any money, he never sells anything he grows, but he has a following, me included, and he doesn’t take it for granted. He knows something bigger than himself is happening here, and he wants to be a good steward of the process.
This kind of schooling…teaching us to strip everything off, instead of the paying attention and learning from the earth, is what he is against.
We have started our Back to Eden garden. It consists of four layers.
1) The ground, a grassy spot in our side yard.
2) Construction paper from Home Depot. Newspaper or something similar also works.
3)Compost. We purchased some because ours isn’t ready.
3 1/2) fresh lawn clipping
4) WOOD CHIPS. Whole branches, green needles and all, free from the neighbors freshly chipped tree. A combination of green and brown is important.
We have also covered our existing garden beds with some wood chips and already it is protecting our young lettuce, broccoli, kale and swiss chard.
In the spring we will hopefully have the perfect setting for all of our seeds.
Paul also believes you can’t get life from death, he lives almost exclusively on a vegan diet from his garden and eggs from his chickens. He also eats what can be grown where he lives. It just makes so much sense to me that what can be grown where we settle is what will feed our bodies in the healthiest way.
My problem??? How do I give up avocados, oranges, or chocolate (cuz those things aren’t growing where I’ve settled)? that’s for another day. But it gets me thinking and I believe the whole point is to get back to thinking if we are to get back to Eden.
I made a pilgrimage to the Back to Eden garden to meet face to face a place where growing is as it should be, everything is growing together with respect for the earth, the plants, health and faith and each other.