Visual Representation #2

This weeks prompt was; what will be your powerful acts of reciprocity with the land? What could you commit to doing/being? How will you act? What could it take for you to make a “leap” into action? This prompt was designed to go along with reading Robin Kimmerer’s short story “Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide”, and our previous investigation of the Leap Manifesto. Both texts are a call to action of sorts, with the latter being a lot more upfront about it. Kimmerer’s “Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide” appeals to your emotions, personifying the forest that surrounds her, and asking what we can do for it. The Leap Manifesto is much more upfront in the way it breaks down how we can change our lives for the betterment of the environment, and in turn, all living things.

Both texts spoke to me. The prompt itself offered space for a lot of introspection. When I first started thinking of what my act of reciprocity would be, and in turn how I would represent that I was stumped. I knew that whatever my act of reciprocity was, it had to be something doable. I didn’t want to make an empty statement. After thinking quite some time of ways in which I could cut back or change my habits, I realized that one of my current hobbies is already an act of reciprocity in itself. My great grandfather was a botanist, who loved gardening. This passion was passed through my grandparents to my father, and now to me. Our current garden at the farm is aproximaly 1/4 acre (1011 m², 10890 ft²). A lot of people don’t realize just how much difference a garden of any size can make. Not only are you reducing that amount of food packaging that you purchase and throw away, but your also reducing emissions used to transport produce to you.

My visual representation of this act of reciprocity is a simple jar of dirt. I origional wanted to grab some of the actual garden soil, but given the winter conditions had to settle for some bagged potting soil from last year. On the top of the jar I wrote a very shortened definition of reciprocity (one that I could remember). The sides of the jar were painted with the following food facts: on average, produce in North America travels 1200-2400 Km, for every 1 Kg of potatoes produced 2.9 Kg of CO2 is produced, for every 1 Kg of broccoli produced 2 Kg of CO2 is produced, for every 1 Kg of beans, 2 Kg of CO2, for 1 Kg of tomatoes 1.1 Kg of CO2, approximately 10 Kcal of fossil fuel energy is used for every 1 Kcal of food energy produced. My hope is that my simple jar of dirt will act as a reminder of the good that can be done with something as easy as gardening.

2 thoughts on “Visual Representation #2

  1. Nice post, Mack!

    I think it’s crazy how much food travels before being consumed. From the farm, to the factory (sometimes) to the supermarket and to everyones houses, that average of 1200-2400 Km, that’s a lot of distance to cover. And if we think about some specific products it can be even more. I keep thinking of the palm oil that comes from Indonesia, travels several thousands of kilometers to reach the rest of the world, and is a reason for destruction of the rainforest. Buying locally or even planting (part of) your own food is a very powerful individual act of respecting the Earth and fighting climate change.

    Does your family eat anything that comes from your garden? What do you usually plant there?
    We have a small garden in our house back in Brazil, much smaller than yours, but gardening sure is lots of fun!


    1. My Dad’s belief when it comes to teh garden is “if it doesn’t produce food, it doesn’t belong in the garden” so aside from the flowers planted along the edge, everything in our garden gets eaten. Some of the crops we grow include; corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, strawberries, raspberries and lots of different types of salad greens. We also do a lot of canning. We make our own sauces, salsa, pickles and apple juice. And yes, gardening definitely is fun!


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