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Gardening, Food, and Meditation

Posted Aug 10 2009 10:55pm
I did some amazing stuff this weekend. If you are in LA, you should definitely check some of this out.

A few weeks ago, one of my friends sent me a link to a woman in Silver Lake who runs an urban farm. Her name is Tara and she began by growing flowers, then moved into herbs, and then fruits and vegetables. She now runs workshops to help gardeners and novices learn to use the space they have to grow their own food. One of the workshops is called Urban Gardening where she takes the group to a local community garden. The members of the group get first hand experience and knowledge as they help to harvest and tend to the plants that are being grown. And also get to see some amazing spaces and projects going on around the city. I took part in the Urban Gardening workshop this Saturday. We were at FarmLab in downtown Los Angeles under the Spring Street Bridge. FarmLab is a spawn of the project "Not a Cornfield" which turned an industrial area of land in downtown Los Angeles into a cornfield for one growing cycle. When that project finished, the team members formed FarmLab. Here is the definition of FarmLab from their website:

"Farmlab is a short-term multi-disciplinary investigation of land use issues that are related to sustainability, livability, and health."

FarmLab hosts many different performance, events, installations, and publications. And also tends to an extensive garden space under the bridge. While we were there on Saturday, we harvested tomato plants, cut back basil, mint and other herbs, weeded the gardens, seeded some of the plants and tended to the strawberries being grown for an installation at the VA hospital. And we got to take home some herbs and tomatoes to use! I was so excited to meet other people who are interested in local foods and getting involved in making it accessible to everyone, no matter what their living situation. And although I am pretty clueless about how to garden, I learned a lot while I was there. I left the workshop feeling really connected to my city as well and awakened to a whole new world of the food culture in Los Angeles. I can't wait to go back for the next one!

Take a look at Tara's site for upcoming workshops and info on the CSA boxes she is putting together delivering local, organic produce starting soon. And take a look at FarmLab's for all their upcoming events, performances and offerings.

On Sunday morning, my husband and I took our weekly trip to the farmer's market in Hollywood. And then we headed to a meditation group. Neither my husband nor I ascribe to any particular religion but are open to spirituality and the enrichment it can bring to life. I have been meditating pretty regularly for the past three years and I think there is a huge connection between meditation and food. Meditation slows down the mind and brings awareness into our lives. I believe that awareness is the key to a healthy diet. Making healthy food choices becomes so much easier when I am aware and present. And it is really hard to overeat if you are aware as you are eating. Awareness can be the key to discovering why we make the food choices that we make and then deciding if that behavior is serving us and our goals for our health and lives. Meditation is the fastest way to develop awareness in life and you can use the techniques to develop awareness around your food as well. For instance, you can make a practice of taking a few deep breaths and coming into the present moment each time before you eat. Then you will really be present with you food - tasting the flavors, chewing well and stopping when you are full or satisfied. Chewing your food can be a meditation too - going slowly and chewing each bite of food fully so it can easily be digested by your body. That practice alone will cure a lot of digestive issues. My husband and I sometimes have competitions to see who can chew a bite of food the longest.

We didn't talk about food at the meditation group but it helped me slow down and enjoy the rest of my day.

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