Plant the Vote!

Posted by Anne Fletcher on

I don't know about you, but I'm voting for these two:

monarch on sunflower


And by that I mean I'm not voting to elect them, but voting for their interests.  Their future is being decided next month, but they can't vote.

I'm sure that everyone reading this has different ideas about the big issues, and I'm not going to go there.  Instead I'm interested in what we have in common, and how we collectively act for our common, common-sense, gardener values. 

Here's a fantastic story about the intersection of a gardener's vision for a better world, and the nitty gritty municipal politics of Los Angeles.  Ron Finley planted vegetables on his front parkway in the food desert of South Central LA.  But it was illegal, and his refusal to remove the garden led to a warrant for his arrest.  When the LA times got hold of the story, the city council finally moved to change the rules.  Now it's legal to grow edibles on all the parkways in LA.  Here's his wildly popular TED talk (which includes some swearing, in case you're watching with kids).

Another example is greywater, and how the regulations have been changing.  Greywater is lightly used water from laundry and showers, as distinct from blackwater, which comes from the toilet. Until the 1990's, greywater reuse was illegal in the United States.  Together with blackwater, it was required to be sent to a sewer.  For most of us living west of the Mississippi, however, water scarcity is a real problem, and reusing our laundry water to irrigate landscapes makes all the sense in the world.  Even gardeners in England (England!  Where it rains all the time!) are beginning to collect and reuse rainwater and greywater.

Over the last 25 years, dedicated local gardeners have been advocating to make greywater legal, to bring municipal codes into alignment with common sense, and to help residents reuse water safely. Now many states allow greywater reuse, albeit to varying degrees.

greywater regulations by state

And then, of course, there's the elephant in the room: climate change.  Leaving aside your feelings about coal and jobs, about a green new deal or unnecessary regulations, gardeners all over the world have noticed the changes. 

Frost dates are shifting, heat waves are increasing, pests are moving into new territory while pollinator populations plummet, and it's getting harder to predict planting dates.  And also, I'm probably not the only one who's been gardening in a respirator when the smoke gets really bad.  We gardeners, attuned to the micro-shifts in our micro-climates, are canaries, and it's our duty to talk about what we're noticing.

I'm not trying to persuade you to vote one way or another on the big issues (most of us have already decided anyway), but I am urging you to vote, period.  Voting is our collective voice, and more gardeners acting together is our best bet to make the world more like a healthy garden. 

Maybe even investigate your local issues, if you have the time and mental stamina.  Does one city council candidate favor encouraging front yard gardens for food security?  Is the mayor for or against neonicotinoid pesticides in municipal parks?  Is a state representative up for reelection, and perhaps more likely than usual to listen to constituents about water policy?

Now is our chance to vote gardeners' values! 

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