the politics of gardening and The Diggers Club

What has slow gardening - or any other gardening for that matter - have to do with politics, climate change and global capitalism?

If you want to learn more about the politics of gardening, you can do no better than to look at the quarterly publication of The Diggers Club, to which I have subscribed since its inception nearly 20 years ago. I call it a publication, because I don't know what else to call it, since it is a plant and seed catalogue, newsletter and magazine. I have learned so much from The Diggers Club. It has had a formative influence on my developing values such as not using chemicals since they will harm beneficial insects, and minimizing my water usage.

Over the years articles in this publication have covered all the important political issues which impact on (slow) gardeners. Recent topics have included:

- the worldwide movement Seed Savers which aims to preserve the biodiversity of food plants,
- the scary terminator seeds developed by Monsanto and
- the dangers of eating genetically modified food.

The current issue - Autumn Garden 2008 - deals with the issue of water restrictions in Melbourne. We are in the midst of a drought and high temperatures. Water reserves are lower than in previous years. The state government has placed serious restrictions on watering gardens. We can water only twice a week for two hours. This does not affect me since I do not depend on water and am trying to establish a dry garden. But it does affect the many people who grow their own fruit and vegetables, as you can imagine. This is a crazy and unfair law. Growing one's own has enormous benefits - economically, environmentally and socially. It is a cultural and historical tradition everywhere.

Clive Blaizey's response to this dilemma is brilliant. He vaguely hints, obliquely suggests, the possibility that we counter this injustice with civil disobedience! No one polices the amount of water used inside the house. Using the shower water ("grey water") for the garden is encouraged. And sometimes you really do need to have a long shower.