It is almost spring in California.
I part the soil gently. I take my daughter's hand and place the seed in her palm. Together we drop it into the small hole. I show her how to cover the seed. I pick up the watering can and tell her, that a seed needs water. Like a bee, my pregnant wife buzzes around us, picking weeds and tending to the new plants.
This is the first garden my little family is planting together. My wife, Rebecca, and I have great hopes for these seeds: clover, sunflowers, corn, beans, herbs, berries, grapes, fruits, vegetables, trees, perennials, and annuals. Some of these plants will flower and fruit this summer. Others will take years. Still others may not work in our particular soil. After all, it has only been three and a half years since the last spray of heavy toxic chemicals on this land. [...]
Walking the land for the first time I saw dry, cracked earth, no green between the rows of avocado trees, no insects or creatures of any kind. It was man-made and terraformed. Scorched. [...]
We have great hope.
We get lucky. The rain comes. At first in a trickle and then a torrential deluge the likes of which Noah awaited. Our cracked, dry patch of earth has water. My daughter finally has an excuse to wear her dinosaur rain jacket and her rain boots, rarities in the dry heat of Southern California. [...]
I leave home to seek more answers to the burning questions in the pages that follow. It is after a long day on the road that my wife phones to tell me she took Athena to the toy store in our small town. I groan – more plastic, more branding, more garbage.
But then she tells me something surprising. She let my daughter pick two toys, one for a friend whose birthday it is and one for herself. Athena looked at everything in the store. For the birthday boy, she picked a set of gardening tools. For herself, she chose a small green watering can.
Indeed we have great hope for our little garden.
AS OLD AS
Nothing in this book is new. It is a story that has been told a thousand times throughout every culture. It is the story of the rise and fall of civilization. It involves the philosophical, political, and social oppression of a people through food. [...]
This is also not a book about climate change, at least not in the way it is being argued about today. This book takes the perspective that carbon is the most basic and essential building block of life. Where there is carbon in the soil, there is water. And where one finds carbon and water in soil, one finds food. Thus this book deals with atmospheric carbon not as a tired political problem but rather as an ecological opportunity that we can access through our food. [...]
One could say this is a book about food, agriculture, soil, climate, and planet. But that would be missing the point. This is really a book about the whole system in which all these things interact. [...] This book is also about people.