Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need...'

...according to Cicero that is. But it makes sense to me. 
I came across that quote some time ago but tonight I found it on the fabulous Maira Kalman New York Times blog "and the Pursuit of Happiness" from the 26th November, 09 post titled 'Back to the Land'

This delightful post manages to touch on some of my pet themes I've been known to bang on about - but she does it so eloquently, yet with humour and inventiveness of a great illustrator that she is. Do have a look at this post if time permits as I have simply pulled out some topical images - which takes away from the overall story!

This image above is from the Edible Schoolyard Project initiated by Alice Waters in 1994 (with considerable planning for the first 2 years!). In Australia we have the Kitchen Garden Project launched by Stephanie Alexander along the lines of the earlier project at Berkley in the US. 
During a stint teaching from 2001 to 2007 in Australian High Schools (NSW) I was amazed to discover what many were consuming during the school day, even in class. Missed meals often led to relying on energy from soft drinks, chips and chocolate. This confused relationship to food was alarming on mass every day - chocolate substituted for breakfast and could be purchased at the canteen - or from the constant fund-raising chocolate boxes on hand in class! 
When a school student myself (many moons ago!) and later as a young teacher in the 1980's there was little or no junk food in the schools where I happened to be. This radical change I found in the 2000's after not being in a high school for 14 years shocked me as I noted all the changes to the food story -  eg class parties consisting of pizza deliveries from franchises?! 
I had been following the Edible schoolyard concept and slow food phenomenon for a long time, buying eggs, even chicken from bio-dynamic farming friends when possible, visiting markets and cooking from scratch much of the time. Demographics where I was teaching favoured the franchised fast food industry and so some of the local schools reflected this.
I tended to observe rather than say too much about it whilst in the school context. My lunch box often gave away my interest in whole foods and conversations starting from this angle were less controversial or bound to annoy stressed staff. Instead of confronting this issue head on I investigated implications of these new habits re food that I was expected to pay lip service to as a teacher. I wondered long and hard about how education curriculum and school policies could avoid the obvious. Everyone was talking obesity but few were talking real food and habits of daily life that are nurturing in the big picture sense and how things work to make a whole!

What I loved about the edible kitchen garden concepts for schools (plus Jamie Oliver and others from around the globe running such programs) is that they are inclusive... all children in the schools where these edible garden projects are set up are able to participate and learn about growing food from seeds, nurturing gardens through to harvest, & bringing this food to the table as nourishing meals.  Here is a program that provides a complete understanding of where food comes from and how it is important socially, culturally, emotionally, intellectually and physically for a good life  and that there shouldn't be a dividing line between the haves and the have nots. I say this because the food and nutrition we access can be such a huge reflection of our socio-economic situation and educational opportunities.

Before i forget, after that dense thought process, also by Maira Kalman is this post from January 2009 (one image shown below) referring to Obama's inauguration here

see more at www.maira.kalman.com.


Katherine Lee said...

how fun! i'm so pleased to have come across your lovely blog and have added you to my links over at urban flea, thanks so much for the comment!

xo katherine aka. urban flea :)

Anonymous said...

Sophie, I am following up on our "chance meeting" at Altoon's blog (This blogging phenomena is like a huge, never ending salon or elegant cocktail party where the conversations are like brilliant ear candy and I become a bit drunk on words!)
Your blog is rich in content, I poked around for 1/2 an hour! Really love your poinciana seed pod art in all the mediums you have used it. (I'm an incurable seed pod collector too, so the pocket idea is genius.)
Isn't Altoon's work exciting? I stumbled on her site through The Textile Blog where she was featured one time. She is so nice about explaining what she is doing in her work. I was a know-nothing about abstract art, but now I am beginning to understand it thanks to her. You should show your work to the creator of The Textile Blog; he would feature your beautiful work I am sure! I am herewith adding you to my Blogs I Follow list! Sincerely, Julia Moore

Altoon Sultan said...

What a wonderful post. I'd seen the Moira Kalman blog a while back, but it was great to see it again, and just when I've been thinking of these issues. Love the Cicero quote. Thanks!

Sophie Munns said...

hello Katherine.
it was lovely to find you had visited this morning! I really enjoyed discovering Urban Flea and shall have to return to see more of your archives. Those penguin classics I adore - I gave my niece 'Sense and Sensability' for her recent birthday so when I spotted your post on them I was delighted to read more.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sophie,

I love ALL of the images you're posting. Thank you for visiting Mapping the Marvellous. Here's to an inspiring and happy 2010!


Sophie Munns said...

Hello Julia,
lovely to discover your message waiting for me this morning! It was a real treat to find Altoon's engaging blog which is how I found yours yesterday as I was interested in your elaboration on the discussion re farms, machinery and such!
I loved reading about lichen and getting a glimpse of what you are involved with - those fascinating illustrations from the book you had borrowed opened up a whole realm!
What you say about blogging is quite true for me in the sense that it opens up worlds and it feels akin to the salon you were hoping to discover - but is so accessible on the web!
Thankyou for the suggestions and I shall look at this.

Now I have to run to meet up with friends from far away who will be waiting for me if I stay here chatting further!

I shall have to respond to Altoon and Marion when I return!

thank Julia!

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Greetings Sophie,

With this posting you have nailed a few issues important to me. First Berkeley is only 14 miles away from our home, so I am aware of Alice Waters and the edible school garden.

Also books are an important part of my life since I have been a fourteen and today I went out and brought home some vegetable seeds for the garden, since we have not had a vegetable garden in the last three years due to my open-heart surgery.

I have missed seeing my bounty grow from a small small and tasting the freshness that cannot be had from the supermarket.

Thank you for sharing your finds with us.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Altoon,
Thanks for your lovely comments. Its interesting that I think a lot of us all over are thinking about these similar things... discontent with the industrialisation of food is very high! And the implications of this for our lives on every level!
I hope I didn't sound overly critical of the fact we humans like to indulge. I should say that I go through bouts of chocolate craving myself.... the difference being I was never set up from the start to think of chocolate as a food.
I was given a very good understanding of what a balanced meal looked like as a child...and knew my health related to seeing the difference between needs and wants...
Whilst teaching I was upset to see students cheated of natural daily sources of nourishment as I came to understand their individual stories. When one is around people who perhaps have time, or opportunity, motivation or know-how to keep nutrition a high priority it can be a trap for the well-nourished and motivated to point the finger and tut tut at those not travelling so well. Dont point the finger I say - offer up your wisdom and energy where there is a need rather than crowing about obesity! Reach out to the children through supporting school programs! Offer something useful somewhere!
It was saddening also to get a sense of how many kids there were whose early years had not introduced them to home cooked meals, at tables, at regular times, with company and sharing of stories. And sobering to realise how many young teens may be providers in their families.... standing in for absent parents, absent anyone at home!
well... one only has to visit your blog Altoon to see what you have grown in your garden, prepared for your meals, to appreciate your very strong connection to the earth. I'm sure you have a library as well! Cicero would be impressed!

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Marion,
Thanks for visiting!
I shall look forward to seeing what is happening at Mapping the marvellous in 2010... have a great year!

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Egmont,
Ah Berkeley! Spelt that wrong in my post! whoops!
Do you have a lot of options for purchasing fresh food around where you live...? I was wondering what the impact of someone like Alice Waters is in your area.

How wonderful that you have decided to get some vegetables in again. I hope you have a great harvest no matter how modest... its always worth it.
Have a most pleasant New years and may 2010 bring you peace and prosperity on a number of levels!

La Dolce Vita said...

I think we should change Cicero's quote to read that one needs a library, garden and a kitchen of course to cook all the bounty that we receive! I feel sad for children who have never had the pleasure of a garden. It is one of my fondest memories as a child. Growing up in the southwest, Alice Waters was an icon to a foodie like me. yumm!

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Caterina,
how true.... of course... the kitchen... could not agree more!
library - garden - kitchen! Children love gardens and nature and I am always reminded of this when I see them in a garden with some secret spaces and rambling parts! It can be such a magical world... I remember being entranced by my library teacher in grade 3 reading us 'The secret garden'. I was in my 30s when I made the connection to this memory and the book title... it was incredible to read this story again and learn what had so captivated me!

Pragya said...

You have a super cool blog, I like it!

Sophie Munns said...

Thanks Pragya,

Have a Happy New Year!

Vivi said...

I adore this post! The combination of gardens, libraries and the beautiful work of Maira Kalman makes me very happy indeed! Have a great New Year!!

Sophie Munns said...

Lovely comments Vivi! Thank you and I hope 2010 is a wonderful and creative year for you all at Hiving out - Happy New Year!