This morning I planted a shit-ton (official) of pepper and tomato seeds. In this part of Colorado, we only have about five months for the growing season, and that’s pushing it – so if you want to pull a tomato off the vine and eat it standing there in your garden, you’ve gotta start your seeds indoors (or else buy astonishingly expensive starts from a garden shop).
Every few years we go crazy with the gardening supplies, which feels better in the in-between years when we can excavate whatever didn’t get used yet and plant a bunch of stuff without having to spend a ton of money (in that particular year, anyway). This year I got a block of organic compressed starting material – maybe coconut coir, something like that? – for all of $3 from ye olde big box home supply store, sawed it in half, added a bunch of water, and happily squished my fingers through the damp soil. Usually we buy those little compressed discs with a hole in the middle, but this was way cheaper and way more squishy fun. We already have an absurd amount of seeds (bless the basement fridge, for she carries many many seeds in her belly) and even had some starting trays left over from last year’s garden ambitions, which failed miserably.
I love that spring fills me with such amnesiac enthusiasm that I can start all these seeds with total joy in my heart. I love that this season gives me the chance to forget and forgive myself for all the seedlings I inadvertently killed last year. (And the year before that, and the year before that, and… ok, a little guilt still lingers.) I love that I retain just enough memory to learn lessons from the failures (and seedling deaths) of years past, lessons that will – I so dearly hope – allow me to stand in the hot sun this summer, slurping juicy tomatoes with abandon.
Forgetfulness is a privilege. Land to grow crops is a privilege. Money to buy gear for starting seeds is a privilege. Time to plant seeds is a privilege. So many people would love to have these things and do not, cannot, are denied access by the systems we live in.
Even as I revel in this springtime joy, I feel a need to stay mindful of the oppressive systems that are working in my favor to give me this space, this time, this means. How do I bring justice to this moment?
It’s not a question I can answer immediately, though a few thoughts come to mind. Sharing the harvest with folx who can’t have a garden. Giving some of our extra seeds to the local seed library. Making a donation to a Black-owned farming & food advocacy collective such as Soul Fire Farm. I discovered this badass nonprofit through their Reparations Map a year (maybe two years?) ago. Their work is a joy to behold & to support. I think I’ve just officially decided that they’ll be the first recipient of TPR’s donation program – we’ll be giving 15% of proceeds from each issue to a social justice-oriented nonprofit, and Soul Fire was already high on the list. All right, so we have a plan!
And we open for submissions in… an hour and a quarter. Not gonna lie, this is even more exciting than planting tomato seeds. And that, my loves, is not something I say lightly.