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Steven Elliot Martyn: The Seeds Of The Sacred Roots Of Agriculture


STEVEN ELLIOT MARTYN: I’m really glad you brought it up too because I was one of those people I guess a primitive I certainly
wouldn’t have called myself that at the time but again in this deep
rejection of all that is Western of all that we see around us and associating it
all with this colonial disaster you know the baby gets thrown out with the
bathwater and I did it myself for a lot of years where I just kind of went well
no agriculture is somehow more corrupt and then we have of course our primary
you know ethical story the Garden of Eden story pretty much tells us that
agriculture is a corrupt state and we’re given it as a punishment not only is it
not a ritual or a celebration as it once was but in our culture it’s seen this
other way and on down the line it goes you know to where people won’t even
labor anymore because they feel it’s so beneath them meanwhile they’ll go to the
gym and work out for two hours or run around doing nothing for two hours you
know instead of actually growing their food or something
useful but so you know I think it’s such a valid question and I do want to
address it so the book The Story of the Madawaska Forest Garden the first
book I wrote is really about an indigenous form of agriculture and in
kind of following the sequence and following the understandings that are
kind of underlying that process you get it from that book and it’s very
complicated in some ways but also very simple in other ways so simple you’ll
forget it almost immediately and it sounds so cliche but indigenous form of
agriculture are co-creative by their very nature they’ve been done for tens
of thousands of years so they wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t a way of
working sustainably with the earth right we can’t make that claim nobody can make that claim anymore probably not for the last couple
hundred years even and certain organic farmers can’t really make that claim
because they don’t really do traditional organic practices like letting things go
fallow and letting the weeds claim back the land for a year or two you know
nobody does that stuff anymore these basic basic agricultural technologies
that were part of the cycles for literally tens of thousands of years
they worked but now it’s all been corrupted and industrialized and so what
we see is a horrific version of it and so of course we think it’s you know
something that somehow corrupt by its very nature but you know in my
experience these days and living inside the dream here the way it works for me
is that agriculture is a ceremony that lasts four months has these very profound
like every ceremony it has these very very poignant and profound moments but a
lot of it is also waiting which is also a big part of ceremony it’s learning how
to wait for the right time to do things waiting for the spirit right so you know
in this unfolding like these ones these plants these corn beans all these ones
that I’ve taken care of for almost thirty years now they’ve been part of my
family there’s this whole rebirthing every year and I’m so happy to see their
faces in the spring and then as they grow up I’m tending to them like you
would your own children not because you expect anything but because it feels
right and it feels good and then at the end of the season right now you can
barely step in my house because there’s bushels and bushels and bushels and flats
and flats and flats and flats of pears and tomato and squash and corn and beans
and everything I’m going to live till the next time I get to see their face
and so it’s this beautiful beautiful receiving you know it’s it doesn’t feel
at all like taking to me anymore it’s this beautiful beautiful cycle where I
give and I give and I give and then I receive you know so I often say this
that maybe you see me in the morning you know in the in the spring you see me out
in the garden and I’m doing some weeding and I look pretty much like when
you’re doing the weeding – right so you’re kind of like well that’s just
like what I do the same thing right but even though a lot of the things I’m
doing and same with the harvest thing it’s like oh he’s taking at the end of
the season and you could see it as the same as anybody’s gardening but over
the years and partially being a forager for a good decade or so before I started
learning about agriculture you know there was something else I learnt in
there and it’s that this is a cycle you know and so if I’m weeding it’s a
sacred act and when I pull things out of my garden they’re to honor you know the
gods of the underworld the gods of death and decay and I put them in an altar you
know and some people call that a compost pile but for me it’s an altar to death
and decay and so it’s part of this cycle right that I’m feeding the underworld
ones so that they will feed me that’s what it’s all about right yeah being square
with them

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