From an early age I’ve been fascinated with food. Why do we eat what we eat? I wondered what unprepared foods looked like. How they tasted and worked together for nutrition. Where they came from. How they are sustained. For me this blossomed a passion for sustainability. How sustainable is one of the most important systems that we know? Food makes sense. Something about balance and what we ingest.
When I look around at the world today, I see more and more development. I understand that development is necessary with the housing situation being so bleak. I can’t help but wonder, however, what the long term impact might be on the land and even our oceans. I believe the way in which we develop needs rethinking…
Where are all the farms? It has been said that if we the people keep developing on the same scale using the same methods often hundreds of years out of date, we will see our demise potentially within the next one hundred years. One hundred years. Archaic people lived off the land for thousands of years using primitive technologies. Two hundred or so years after our own industrial revolution resources are running out and concrete cities spread like wildfire. If we the constituents of this planet, earth, don’t change, we may ALL find ourselves homeless.
Homelessness, or as some would say houselessness, goes deeper than just finding oneself without shelter. To be without a home can happen the moment you no longer see where you are as being where you want to be. For me, this started a long way and many missteps from where I am today.
My life for eighteen years was suburban cookie cut with a few bumps and scars along the way. I come from a good wholesome and loving upbringing with adequate education. There was always a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I was fortunate.
Then it was time for university two thousand miles from the place I had known as home. I held it together for a while, but shortly after moving and giving things a go, something within me snapped. I was up for days following ludicrous story arcs about people I’ve known, people I’ve just met. Fearing that if I wasn’t around something terrible would happen to those I cared about. They call it an illness that leaves me apologizing. Making me sorry that my view of the world doesn’t synergize with normal. I kind of blackout when I’m manic, so it’s hard to recall all of my actions. Visualizing erroneous truths so believable it’s as if they rose with the sun.
Mom was around for my first hospitalization, I know that. Shortly after I put life back together from my first dance with mania she was diagnosed with type two melanoma skin cancer. Cancer is a hard sickness to watch anyone go through, be it a loved one. It’s been ten years and I’ve been through countless hospitalizations and even incarcerations since she passed and I was left with a diagnosis of Bi Polar.
My time at university lasted some years after my hospitalization as I limped along, on and off meds. Damned if you do damned if you don’t sorta thing. It wasn’t until a certain fog lifted that I saw how in debt I was becoming, how quickly and realized how little schooling I was retaining. “Brandyn, get a job,” a professor once told me. So I did. In the long run, I couldn’t afford my degree.
For years I searched for meaning working in and out of restaurants, around music and people coming together. I was looking for anything to keep the good times going and alleviate pain in the bad. What are meds and what are drugs muddled. Coming from a holistic background, where echinacea and a clove of garlic were often sick aids, I was tentative about needing antipsychotics. The manic cycle was rolling around once or twice a year where one bad weekend would leave me without a job and without a home.
A room, four walls to retreat from the world to put life back together. I was left alienated and alone. With all of the opportunity in the world I found myself kicking rocks on the curb waiting for the wind to blow. Enough was enough. I had to change something. This was not where I wanted to be. I knew I could do more with this life. Something meaningful.
After my latest manic break I finally decided it was time for synthetic stability. If anything was going to kill me it might as well be the chemical working to balance my mind and body. An injection a month curbs the highs and the lows so I don’t lose myself to my illness. For over a year and a half now I have been stable without a manic break.
Keeping it together when one is confused about where to go or what to do is no easy task for anyone. The way of the world is maddening with all its hoops and broken systems. In and out of the awareness that we as a people are killing not only ourselves, but also the place which gave us life. Our only home.
Where are all the farms? Could the fires in the Amazon be attributed to slash agriculture and mono-cropping. Is this really our future or is there another way? I believe we need to create sustainable ecosystems. Let us allow mother nature to do what she does best. Regenerative agriculture and the practices this farm uses to cultivate the land should be our future. Will it? It all comes down to how we come together as a community and what our actions are.
It wasn’t until I found this farm and this program that I felt I truly found a better way. People come together here unlike any other public forum. They come for support and unconditional love. They come to work hard and learn along the way. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to bring sustenance to life. The connection to the Earth is primal. Like staring into a fire, a calm washes over as you gaze upon literal fruits of your labour.
Who are the stewards of this land? Some, perhaps, because there was nowhere else to go, no other option or avenue, no other place to call home but this bit of land.
My own future is uncertain, but I feel a call to the land and wish to continue growing along with it.
This farm allows a fighting chance to those willing and gives havon to some struggling the most. This program gives more than just another chance to those looking to better their lives. It shows how anyone, no matter the troubles they have overcome, deserves the best out of this life.
We all deserve the best out of life, no matter who you are. And we all have one thing in common, we’re human and being human, you gotta eat. A drop of water in the ocean perhaps, or I suppose a clump of soil on the land.
The Homeless Garden Projects mission to not only support community but allow hands on training in regenerative agriculture is progressive to say the least. With hopes to expand, your help could open doors to dozens of trainees in just a couple of years. More people farming is more bellies fed with quality nutritious foods. It’s a community coming together for the well being of mind, body and spirit. For a few hours a day life makes sense. Working here mesmerizes like that fire. It might be hard work at times, but it’s simple and simple feels like home.
At our August 24, 2019 Sustain Supper, our trainee, Brandyn Diachenko, delivered a stirring talk about his experience in our program.