From Karmê Chöling’s Garden Gate

Many people ponder how humanity can continue its proliferation on planet earth with its limited material resources and a rapidly widening ecological footprint.
I am just a small-scale organic gardener who has been cultivating his plot of land, first in Holland for ten years, and then in Barnet, Vermont for the last twenty years.
The question I ask myself is how can we (all humanity) grow our food sustainably so that future generations will still be supported by the elements, the microorganisms and the plants and animals of our embattled planet? How can I help foster an interest and appreciation, also among hardened skeptics, for the magnificent, dazzling interconnectedness of life on earth?
Though the challenges ahead are clearly daunting, there is a growing enthusiasm around the world, from China to Vermont, to eat organically grown food and shrink our carbon footprint. For example, the United Nations just came out with a study, called ‘The Right To Food,’ in strong support for agro-ecology: ‘agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are environmentally sustainable and socially just.’
The purpose of this blog is twofold:
  • To share with you my stories and experiences with cultivating a beautiful bio-diverse one acre organic garden in Vermont,
  • And, secondly, how my involvement with the Shambhala and Buddhist wisdom traditions have helped (guided) me to stay positive and inspired.
In this first blog entry I want to take you to our Karmê Chöling garden gate.
I have developed a ritual where before entering the garden I consciously unload all my psychological baggage: preoccupations, expectations and judgements of all kind, so I can enter with an uncluttered mind.
Just as trees drop their leaves every fall, quite elegantly, if I may say, you, too, can let go of your busy, scheming mind (for a moment). You might feel naked and exposed, at first, but it will create a very fresh atmosphere, full of creative possibilities. This way, you step into the garden with your doors of perception (and your senses) wide open.
Instead of being weighed down by feelings of responsibility or fear that a superbug descended on your garden overnight, you allow yourself to be surprised, whether painful or pleasant. (You ‘take it as it comes,’ as Jim Morrison sang.)
Even when an old familiar voice whispers in your ear to speed-up and not loosen your edge of cleverness and productivity, you can train your mind to ‘hold its horses.’ If fact, you might discover that, if you allow yourself to relax for a second in this open space with no agenda, the garden starts to communicate with you in much more intimate and subtle ways.
Not only do the flowers appear more vibrant, you also smell the earth with subtle distinctions, you feel the breeze against your skin, you become more receptive to your co-workers’ needs and you feel ready to relate with whatever challenge pops up.
This easy trick, or method, of ‘stop, drop and meet the world of the senses free from commentary’ can be repeated many times through day. In the middle of harvesting a long bed of spinach, for instance, you remind yourself to stand up for a moment, look at the skyline and feel the richness of the space around you. There are many variations on this theme. See what works for you.
Jan Enthoven, Master Gardener
Slogan of the week: Stop, Drop and Touch the Speechless Sky
p.s. I will happily share this blogspace with with my two garden teammates; Aaron DeLong and Anemone Fresh.

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