Prabhupada's Green Thumbs
Sarva-drk and Sudevi Mataji
at Prabhupada Village, Sandy Ridge, NC
Bhakta Sten, Sweden
Almviks Gard Community, Sweden
Astasakhi dasi: a Gardener and Flower Artist
Almviks Gard, Sweden
Way back, after graduating college and having begun duties as an organic farm inspector, one of my first visits was with a religious group called the Brethren, whose farm was situated near Kitchener, Canada.
Though possessing a basic introduction into farming and gardening from school, little practical experience was at hand to assist my newly-germinated profession.
The Brethren is a religious order and from observation ate communally and enjoyed community-ownership. The two gentlemen in charge of the agricultural department happened to be vegetarian, so we found extra commonality beyond our interest in farming.
The first part of the inspection was the garden and I was left alone to make observations. It was large and diverse, reflecting the needs of the community, but weed-less. Not a weed in sight. That made me sweat.
Where were they? After-all, this was an organic affair and keeping such a large plot so clean is a chore. So, there I was, walking between the produce, stressed out and all-the-while praying to see a weed.
After turning a corner, the answer stared me in the face. There they were, a line of young ladies – bonneted and armed with hoes -- determined to play their role in the commune. They were fulfilling an important responsibility while realizing firsthand the importance of growing food.
For them, gardening wasn’t an obscure lesson but rather a life fundamental.
This struck me as a lesson for the Hare Krishna movement, in that our children are not taught their connection to land and diet from an early age. Suffering from such a disconnect makes establishing rural communities a greater task.
Efforts to connect to the land must be cultivated within our devotional neighborhood. Rather than starting ill-equipped cow protection programs, why not establish gardens adjacent to the temple and home to feed, decorate and worship the Deities? Would this not be considered a high standard of worship? Certainly, and it’s so doable.
Gardening is a brahminical act and should be taught at our schools and implemented at the temples. In this manner, the values and pleasure of food production will gradually -- but certainly -- filter into our culture. Currently, gardening is the number one hobby in North America, so there must be something to it.
I have a sad story.
Unfortunately, my daughter’s marriage terminated and her daughter started spending half her time with her father and new spouse. They had a garden in the backyard and the Princess would return home from school and labor every day in the patch. She just loved it.
As cruel fate would have it, that relationship was also torn asunder. In a conversation with my granddaughter, she lamented that she no longer had the opportunity to spend time gardening after school. At just seven years old, she seemed awfully wise for her age.
This caused me to wonder if, amongst our ranks, could there be a legion of fameless gardeners? If so, could this provide our community a well of inspiration and motivation to grow food?
With this hope in mind, we have added a page to the Hare Krishna Rural Life website to highlight our gardeners. Your garden can be comprised of one pot on a balcony or acres in size. Whichever the case, we would love to hear from you and be inspired by your efforts.
If you are gardening or farming, please provide a brief description along with a photo, or two, of your good self and crop; that is all it takes. Perhaps, this can be the start of encouraging other devotees and friends to get their hands dirty and highlight an unknown element of the devotional community. We’ll only know if we give it a try.
So, please share your food-growing efforts so we can enthuse others to offer Sri Krishna and Srila Prabhupada only the best.