I thought that in trying to grow my own food this year, I was truly going back to the beginning, the basics of self-sufficiency and the roots of all societies.
Now I think I was wrong. I need to go back further.
To grow food, first you need to grow soil.
Here was my recipe for vegetable life: Collect up swapped seeds, cover them in depleted dirt, douse them with water, and wait as the sun bakes them. But this isn’t enough. All I’ve got is dirty seeds that get damp twice a day and then dry out again every arid afternoon.
What they need is living, breathing soil: lush humus with dark crumbles of decaying organic matter loosely netted together by fungi and roots, aerated by tunneling worms and enriched by nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
I rushed to the part I understood, the part you see in grocery stores. “Land, give me the food I need to live.” I skipped all the care it takes to get there. “Land, here is the nourishment you need to support countless lives in an ever-evolving, ever-growing web, from the microbial to the macroscopic, myself included—eventually.”