Veganism and feminism are inseparable concepts in my life.

This blog is a theoretical interpretation of the lived experiences of a vegan feminist,
and an exploration of what it even means to be one in the first place.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gardening as Feminist and Vegan Activism

Gardening, for me, is a creative form of feminist and vegan activism. I'm not currently a dedicated vegan abolitionist, but I am strongly influenced by Gary Francione's ideas about activism as finding non-violent and creative ways to educate people. It's because of his ideas that I get excited every time I think about a creative and peaceful way to do activism. I don't think activism needs to follow a formula; I see it as an attempt that we go into with the best of intentions and are willing and ready to change or abandon if it accidentally becomes oppressive or hateful. Whatever activism looks like is unique to the activist, so I invite you to try gardening as a form of activism if it makes sense to you.

Gardening is a form of peaceful resistance that simultaneously makes us as gardeners more self reliant and allows us to financially support certain industries less. While many of us will never be fully self reliant when it comes to food, we can still make steps in the right direction and take control where we can.

Gardening is a form of feminist and vegan activism because it rejects the oppression both of these groups oppose. Both feminist and vegans oppose humans being taken advantage of. Commercial grocery stores sell plant produce that is either grown in "developing countries" by the local population or in "developed countries" by migrant workers. These workers are rarely paid appropriate wages, can experience physical and verbal abuse on the job, and are forced to keep these jobs and put up with the poor conditions to support their families. Even buying locally is not the solution; in Ontario, where I live, we have a large migrant worker population. Furthermore, nonhuman animals are killed regularly by pesticides and farm equipment. At their best, monocrops displace large native populations of animals. Gardening gives the activist complete control over the conditions that their produce is grown in and they know exactly who is affected and how.

Luckily for us, anyone can garden! Sprouts, most herbs (like basil, thyme, rosemary, mint etc.), wheat grass, and dandelions (for their leaves) can all be grown indoors year round. Tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, strawberries, zucchini, and rhubarb are just a few examples of plants that can grow in pots on your balcony or porch from Spring to early Fall. If you have the space for an in ground garden you can get creative and buy fruit trees (small ones go for $50-100) or grow plants like corn, raspberries, and pumpkins. Your local library or the internet can always provide more specific information about the amount of sun, soil quality, and pot size certain plants will need.

Be wary of information you find when it comes to "pests", most current information in gardening is influenced by an anthropocentric and speciesist train of thought that is ready and willing to trade animal death for the "perfect" looking garden. This is unnatural (as gardens are never perfectly kept and they're just fighting off the inevitable), cruel, and unnecessary. As activists we should be concerned with impacting other sentient creatures as little as possible. Our gardens should be designed to prevent encroaching "pests". Indoor gardens can be started from seed and any insects can be moved outside. If it's too cold out, buy your insect friends a plant (preferably with yellow flowers, aphids are attracted to those) that is just for them, and move them when it gets warmer. Outdoor gardens should avoid monocrops. If you plant 3 meters squared of tomatoes, then yes, you will get insects that eat tomatoes. Mix up your plants and add plants that deter insects (like citronella) or plants that attract predators (like sunflowers). There are usually natural and friendly remedies to get rid of all "pests", but they vary animal to animal and should be looked up individually and with patience. It might take getting to the 10th page of google before you find help that isn't cruel. For larger "pests" use netting, buy a small greenhouse with a see through plastic cover, or go to your local humane society and ask for cat feces (when I used to volunteer at one a fellow came in asking for this, saying it deterred raccoons).

Finally, the soil you buy matters. Read the ingredients in any soil you buy to avoid financially supporting products that kill or use nonhuman animals. It's really just as simple as buying a different bag. Avoid anything that contains blood meal, bone meal, manure, and compost (just to be safe). If you need a perk me up, go for natural fertilizers like used coffee grinds (Starbucks and Whole Foods gives bags of these away for free if you ask for them). If you happen to live near an animal sanctuary, offer a donation in exchange for their manure.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. Im currently studying horticulture, am vegan and just reolising feminism. :)


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