Remembering in the Garden

Remembrance Day -

Remembering in the Garden

Author: Priscilla Lipp

At YYC Growers we believe in regenerative agriculture. Not just because of how it’s good for the planet, but because of how it's good for people. People make our world go round, and this remembrance day we share a story from one of our people. It is in many ways the origin story of all of us who enjoy the freedom that Canada offers, told through the eyes of the ultimate farmer of human life; a mom 

“Lest we forget,” a phrase often quoted at Remembrance Day services, reminds us to remember events and people of the past.  On this specific day we ask questions such as, “Why were they fighting?” “Who were the heroes and what did they do?” “Who were the villains?”  “Was justice served?” and finally, “What can we learn for our own lives?”

What better place to contemplate than in a garden?  Pinterest posts abound with this anonymous quote: “Never underestimate the healing power of a quiet moment in the garden.”  So come with me to my garden, where the produce has been harvested, the resting ground has been tilled and the perennials are preparing to slumber their winter sleep. Let’s remember some heroes, think of some villains, and learn some lessons.

There are many prominent heroes in the limelight who were rightly decorated with medals.  They are like the tall trees in my garden. Some have borne fruit, others have provided shade or shelter, while a few have been purely ornamental. Then there are a few tiny Johnny-Jump-Up flowers that are still blooming in the waning warmth of Indian Summer!  They are like the unsung heroes of the war:  those left behind, the spouses, the mothers, the children, who kept the home fires burning, produced food, manufactured goods, and provided compassionate care. Last, but not least, in my garden are the annual plants that have disappeared. They would be forgotten, unless specifically remembered, like memorials to the unnamed heroes. Each had a role to play and a purpose in the war effort.

Why were these heroes in battles and what were they fighting for? Perhaps well-meaning at first, government leaders had overstepped their boundaries.  They stopped caring for their people. They used their power to promote selfish ambition and tyranny.  Victims were slaughtered, families were disrupted, property was stolen and destroyed. Fortunately, people rose to protect, to defend and then to bring the villains to surrender. Freedom is like a garden:  needing cultivation, planting, watering, weeding and protection.

Photo Credit: Re-adapted historical poster. Adaptation by Julia Kricken YYC Growers), original poster from Health League of Canada. 

As I thought of the harvest that I had gathered from my home garden, I remembered my mother showing me a beautifully hand embroidered tablecloth that she had traded for a bag of onions right after the ending of WWII.  Urban dwellers had come to her village to barter for food during the desperate times after the war when food production was minimal and supply chains were disrupted. Even in Canada Victory Gardens were a valuable resource.

As I contemplate beside the window overlooking my garden, I remember a phrase from a previous Remembrance Day service about swords being hammered into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.  Weapons transformed into garden tools…music to my ears. What would cause such a transformation? I purposed to research this quote after I left the garden.  

The late Audrey Hepburn once quipped, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

Let’s go into the garden, think, remember, and then plant, lest we forget.