A Quiet Revolution. ~ Ben Neal

Via Ben Neal
on Jun 23, 2013
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bens garden3

I’m a radical, an enemy of the state; a revolutionary intent on overthrowing the corporate power structure…

That is to say, I’m a gardener.

I’m still pretty new at it, learning as I go. I didn’t grow up on a farm; I wasn’t taught how to live off the land. I grew up in the suburbs, eating supermarket food. And I had no idea where all that conveniently wrapped deliciousness came from.

One day, it occurred to me that nobody else did either. The full realization of that fact was quite a shock. Thousands of years of agricultural knowledge—essential to human survival—was almost completely lost to my generation.

A little investigation revealed that the problem is even more disturbing than it first appeared, because the companies that are making most of our food today are poisoning us, and the planet. I realized something had to change.

So I took some basic classes put on by the KC chapter of Food Not Lawns (a great place to start), I plugged myself into the local gardening community (gardeners are always happy to answer questions and share their knowledge) and I went into the backyard and started digging. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.

So I put some seeds in the ground (nice, wholesome organic seeds, of course), I watered them every day…and they grew.

Okay, so there is a bit more to it than that. But my point is this: not long ago I couldn’t tell the difference between herbs and weeds. Last night, my beloved and I dined on a salad of fresh greens harvested right out of our own backyard.

The revolution is underway…

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

~ R. Buckminster Fuller

You see I’m an activist and an idealist, but you won’t find me holding a picket sign and marching against Monsanto. I’ll probably be at home weeding and mulching, or harvesting radishes. Don’t get me wrong, I support the cause! I respect all of you that are out there boycotting, demonstrating and campaigning to raise awareness. But we need to do more than protest. We need to grow, build, create and innovate. We need to get our hands dirty.

Imagine: where would we be without industrial farms? What if the companies that have been feeding us for decades just suddenly vanished? The supermarket shelves would be almost empty. What would you eat? All the organic farms in the country don’t produce enough food to actually feed the population. Until we can feed ourselves, we are dependent upon giant agribusiness and the governments that regulate them. (The regulation might actually work the other way around… but that’s another article.)

We can’t afford to be dependent anymore. We need to step our game up. We need to take back our food, take back our power, our freedom, our sovereignty. We need to stop thinking and living like consumers and reclaim the knowledge and the skills to actually produce what we need to survive. This is a shift in consciousness that changes the way we exist in the world.

In today’s society, planting a garden is an act of revolution.

A garden creates sustainability and boosts your local economy. It reduces your impact on the global environment as well as your dependence on the food industry. It enlivens your neighborhood and builds community.

A garden also improves your health and well-being. It gets you away from the TV, and outside in the open air. It provides you with the freshest, tastiest and healthiest produce possible.

A garden can bring your family closer together. Parents and children can be outdoors, working side by side, spending quality time together and learning about food and Nature. (My nine year old son actually helped me till the ground this year…for about 30 minutes, before he wanted to go inside and play the Xbox. But that half hour was priceless.)

bens garden2By growing my own food, I am growing as a person. I am connecting with my family, my neighbors and my community. I’m also remembering how to connect with the ecosystem in a way that modern man has largely forgotten. I’m working in harmony with the bees and the butterflies. I feel a more intimate relationship with the sun and the soil, the rain and the seasons.

For me, gardening has been a spiritual revolution. When I’m in the garden, with the sun on my back, my hands in the dirt and my bare feet in the cool grass, I am outside of clock-time. I feel something of what our ancestors felt—a great connectedness; a shamanic reverence for all living things. I feel my place as a human being among other beings; equal and inter-dependent.

My time in the garden is helping to dissolve the sense of separation between man and Nature, self and other; between me and the awesome vastness of the universe. I feel at home on the Earth, a part of the ancient cosmic dance of Life.

There’s a quiet revolution going on, and you can be a part of it. Yes, you—the one reading this article. If I can do it, anyone can. Even if you don’t have a yard to till you can make creative use of your balcony, or even have some fresh herbs growing on the window sill… whatever you can grow and produce on your own makes a difference!

We can create a new world, a new way of living, and it can be as simple as planting a seed.




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Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Ben Neal

Ben Neal is a father, a musician, a mystic poet and lover of Zen. He lives with his beloved in Kansas City, writing and teaching meditation and experiential spirituality, tending his garden, raising his son and riding the wave of global Awakening. He loves to have passionate philosophical discussions on the nature of ultimate reality over hand crafted Belgian-style ale. He aims to suck the marrow out of life, and infect the world with unbounded Love and Freedom. Connect with him on Facebook or on his blog.


16 Responses to “A Quiet Revolution. ~ Ben Neal”

  1. Julia Dizmang says:

    Great article, Ben! My paternal grandparents had a farm, but they lived 5 hours away so I was only blessed with the gardening experience about a week or 2 in the summer of each year when I was growing up. A very good point how quickly the connection between growing and food has been all but obliterated in such a relatively short time. Kudos to you for giving it a try, with no prior experience. I hope your article encourages more "supermarket kids" to get some seeds or plants and give it a try. Growing your own food brings a satisfaction on so many levels that is hard to adequately express with words. You must have the experience yourself. Quiet revolution – one garden at a time!

  2. bneal817 says:

    Yes, indeed! Thank you for your comment Julia. Steve tells me that you two are having fresh greens these days, too. I'm glad that your garden is thriving despite the rabbits (and the new puppy…)

  3. ktbradley says:

    Excellent article. My paternal and maternal grandparents had awesome gardens that produced so much that they shared the harvest with my parents, so we didn't need a garden. Unfortunately, that meant I grew up learning very little about gardening. Our 2nd floor apartment is not conducive to gardening, but we will hopefully have different digs soon and we plan to have at least an herb garden.

  4. bneal817 says:

    Thanks Kevin! I am envisioning a lovely house for you and Melanie, with a lush yard overflowing with delicious greenery. Peace, my friend.

  5. Chris Foster says:

    Really great article Ben!! Congrats on joining Elephant Journal

  6. EcstaticPaul says:

    Ben, inspiring! I shall take you up on it and join the Green Revolution!

  7. bneal817 says:

    Thanks Chris. I appreciate your comment!

  8. bneal817 says:

    Hell yeah Paul! To work the land with your own two hands gives me such 'Wild Joy!'

  9. Monica Johnson says:

    I love what you're saying!

  10. bneal817 says:

    Thank you Monica! I'm glad you dig it (I know that's a pretty bad pun, but I couldn't resist).

    ~ Ben

  11. dejah says:

    Wow, awesome article, Ben! Very inspiring. Since becoming more aware of agribusiness, GMOs, and Monsanto, I've been trying to garden more (unfortunately, I stink at it!) and support local farmers as much as I can by shopping at farmer's markets. My son is the same age as yours, and loves his video games too. But he helps out (a little bit) when I plant our vegetable garden and we let him enter some of what we've grown into our local county fair. It motivates him a little bit more when he knows he might get a ribbon and some acknowledgment for his work!

  12. bneal817 says:

    Awesome way to get your little one involved, Dejah! It is such an invaluable lesson to teach them to garden and care for the earth.

  13. Cat B says:

    Thank you for being such an inspiration! Happy gardening!

  14. bneal817 says:

    Thanks Cat! I'm glad you liked it.

  15. MaryLou says:

    Hey Ben! Very well-written article. You have a writing talent and a gardening talent and music talent and on and on and on…. Just knowing you blesses me….

  16. kat says:

    wonderful! i'm doing, and thinking, the same exact thing out here in the pacific island of Guam. it's like writing a new story about ourselves as humans, trying to combine the new with the old, or going back to (duh) the basics.
    the truth is spreading, keep sharing your ideas…so inspiring!