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Community Storytelling on Food, Ecology, and Place

From soil springs life; it holds the vitality of our gardens, generations of biological decay and growth, disturbance and recovery, regret and promise. Hands in the earth, we are connected to land and the possibilities of healing. How might we reciprocate this nurturing energy?

In the Garden is a gathering of work by growers, cultivators, and creatives as they consider why and how we grow food, care for the land, and nourish our relationships to the earth and to one another. This chapbook explores connections to land and community, ecology and reciprocity, food and justice. Contributors celebrate landscapes often dismissed as lifeless and explore urban-ecological relationships in their own backyards, asking what it means to grow and flourish in arid, increasingly water-scarce geographies.

Climate crisis and environmental upheaval require creative and imaginative engagement. Storytelling is an important way to collapse the boundaries between nature and culture by emphasizing our collective entanglement and highlighting that the environment is always everywhere: in our homes, schools, and cities. Gardening is intimately tied to issues of environmental justice; food sovereignty is an essential part of a sustain- able future, as it demands that everyone has the right to healthy, culturally-affirming food and emphasizes local, democratic control over food production. Food justice is not only about what we eat, but also about imagining new ecological and social relation- ships in a more holistic food system that prioritizes the well-being of humans, plants, animals, and ecosystems over the demands of corporate agribusiness.

The words and art in this collection explore how we are interdependent, deeply en- tangled with our wider environment and the people we live and garden alongside. From poetic odes to earthworms, to prose that unearths generations connected through radish enchiladas, to art that finds beauty and growth in unexpected places, the pieces in this collection are engaging and expansive as contributors resist stereotypes about what it means to garden, instead presenting stories as diverse as they are. By gathering together poetry, prose, and art, this chapbook presents a collection of stories that are eclectic and connected, powerful and hard to pin down. Though these pieces are arranged in an intentional rhythm, we encourage you to engage with them in a way that flows for you.

In the Garden invites readers to celebrate cultivation, get dirty, create more, and consume less. We encourage you to dig in—to the places you call home, to your body, to your relationships. The pieces contained within highlight the myriad ways that we can live richly and fully through immersion in our environment; by unearthing the past, seeding new connections and composting the old, feeding our imagination, and water- ing roots to place and people. This is about finding new opportunities for living and growing in a difficult and changing world. In the garden, we are reflecting and grieving as much as we are flourishing. We invite you to rethink your relationship to food, land, and community in consideration of a connection that might be messier but is ultimately deeper.

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