I am King Moo. My wife is Queen Moo. We live in Mootopia, our up-north urban micro-farm. We have four little Moo-lings, several cute chickens, and we drive a big white van called The Mooliner. And we now have an elegant royal garden to help sustain the populace.
A wise king makes his kingdom resilient. That means he is constantly looking out for future risks and steering the kingdom in the right direction to either avoid them or be ready. And boy, are there risks out there today. Political risk, economic risks, and climate risks to name a few. The climate is changing, the Great Recession is fresh in our memories, or even still a struggle in some parts, and the politics are off the chart muddy. It’s enough to make a person feel insecure.
Insecurity is the root of all evil. Food insecurity, especially, since civilization is only three meals deep. The images from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina bear that out. As king, I realized we needed more practical knowledge and better assets for growing food ourselves.
Growing more food in Mootopia would help address the risks from food of questionable quality or nutritional value. It would help the citizens better understand nutrition. It’s also undeniable that getting one’s hands dirty and working hard is so earthy, yet, paradoxically, it leads to a real spiritual benefit from really understanding our relationship to the food we eat. And, while gardening hopefully will never be our sole source of food, it would make our lives better in good times and especially in bad. In short, it was a good idea on many levels. I believe that the world would be a better place if more people grew more of their own food.
I believed it so much I decided to be the change I wished to see in the world. So I made a garden. I made it with raised beds that were tall enough to be easy to plant, weed, and tend. My knees thanked me. I planted, I actually weeded the whole thing, and I watered. I did not hunch over and I did not have to get onto my knees. Gardening is hard enough work already, so why not make it a little easier wherever possible? Whatever helps you grow, right?
Key to the whole project, I made them efficient and low cost. My pocketbook thanked me. Raised beds are typically a very luxurious, but a very expensive way to garden. With a little fencing and some landscape fabric, the Mootopian budget was saved. Well, actually, we just put in more garden beds and splurged on the really good soil.
I made the raised beds so they could string together and make interesting layouts. My children thanked me. They enjoyed the maze-like spaces between the garden beds and hiding amongst the tomatoes. They saw the miracle of the seeds sprouting. They felt the prickles of the zucchini leaves and they hunted for the cucumbers. They nibbled peas and beans right from the plants. They experienced where food comes from.
I made the garden beds to hold lots of rich, black soil and go above the ancient asphalt tennis court that was the only sunny spot in my yard. The plants thrived and thanked me with a hearty harvest. It was like a giant vegetable love fest by autumn.
Come autumn we learned even more about where food comes from. We chopped and we froze. We learned to sauce, and can. We made jellies and apple butter. We picked and we pickled. We had to buy a new freezer to hold the bounty. The kids got tired of it, but at least they know what food is, now.
For quite a while in the fall, we had more than we could use ourselves. For the first time, food became a Mootopian export product as we gave away produce, bartered veggies for a lawn tractor, and gifted people with jellies and pickles. Turns out is not that hard to feel like a producer instead of just a consumer. And it feels good.
Ryan Hunt is currently running a Kickstarter to fund production of his raised garden beds, called Garden Circles. Search “Garden Circles” on www.kickstarter.com or visit www.facebook.com/gardencircles to purchase your own Garden Circles or donate the raised beds to a local community garden.