It’s the dark side of community gardens that people don’t talk about. We focus on how great it is to see so many different methods of growing crops. We talk about sharing information about good varieties and extra seedlings. But amid all this group harmony runs an all too human tendency: blind judgment.
Yes, for the first time yesterday, I found myself the target of zucchini shaming. The following was posted in a local gardening Facebook group:
“Why do people grow vegetables and never pick them and let them go to waste ????? There are GARDENERS at the community garden who just leave there veggies to rot…C.L. Fornari why don’t you harvest your veggies ????”
Yikes! Frankly, I didn’t know whether to be angry or amused. I’m not sure that the person who wrote this was even looking at my community garden plot, because as anyone who follows my blog or social networking knows, my husband and I are constantly harvesting, cooking and preserving or eating our vegetables. Perhaps she was mistaking a neighbor’s plot for mine.
I recognize that one reason that this poster called me out has to do with the tallest poppy syndrome. As a very visible garden communicator I suppose I’m set up to be a target. When you’re a public figure you’re in for greater scrutiny, even in the gardening world.
But this incident reminds me of the propensity people have to make assumptions and pass judgement on others, even when they are basing their conclusions on false suppositions. We all do it. I am just as capable of going off half-cocked and getting on my high horse about something as the next person…or gardener, as the case may be. Yet just because we humans are prone to conjectures and the desire to belittle someone else, doesn’t mean that we can’t control ourselves (don’t press send?) or apologize if we slip up.
Taking this conversation back to gardening, we need to look at any vegetable bed clearly. There is always waste. There are those zucchini that go from tiny and tender to baseball bats overnight. There are tomatoes that were just barely ripe one morning yet are beginning to rot by the next nightfall. And there are always life circumstances that pull us away from the harvest despite our best intentions. Rot happens, to paraphrase a common cliché.
One thing that I hope the garden teaches us is flexibility…with our crops and with fellow gardeners. Do your best to always grow good things. Peace.