On TV I just watched English children being interviewed who did not know where cabbages, and carrots came from.
These children had no awareness of farms and gardens.
It was quite a shock to me that any culture could become this totally detached from connection to nature, to be in a situation of life in a space capsule.
- One-in-five have never visited the countryside
- A further 17% have only been to the countryside "once or twice", meaning a third of children have little, if any, experience of the rural world
- One-in-five children say they have never picked and then eaten fruit - one of the staples of traditional outdoors life
This study was linked to Britain’s Prince Charles launching a campaign, from his Highgrove home, that aims to reconnect children with the countryside, especially children living in towns and cities.
Part of the Prince’s campaign is to invite schools to his Highgrove organic gardens, meet with him and show them around his farm. He intends to do this campaign for at least a year.
Prince Charles is making a statement that “agricultural literacy” is as important, if not more important, than learning to read and write.
The action and publicity by the Prince happened at the same time as a lobby of 272 academics, psychologists and teachers who wrote to Britain’s Daily Telegraph earlier this week to provide a feature to reveal how modern society had "contaminated" childhood. IN their lobbying letter they explained that children's play was being eroded by a cocktail of test-driven schooling, addictive video games, increased traffic and and irrational fear of strangers that caused parents to closet their children. Childcare experts from the United States, Canada and Australia have now added their names to the lobby alongside those from the UK.
The Prince’s campaign can only touch a few children.
I hope this campaign will open many more opportunities for education to not only show where food comes from but how we are responsible for looking after where the food comes from.
This seems to be one step further from a previous detachment where most meat eaters of the developed west have no idea of how meat food gets to the supermarket. These same people often find game food and the act of hunting revolting without measuring this against how farmers have to raise farm animals to meet the excessive meat eating demands of western Europe and North America who together eat over 80% of the world’s production of protein.
An example was as a cafe owner people would ask me for a chicken breast sandwich with the whitest meat we had. Though I do not eat farm meat myself I have raised free range hens in the past and I know that meat from the breast of a culled free range hen is never white. Should people question why chicken meat is white and then question how they are personally connected to nature?
Very few people today can recognize food they can eat in the wild, what are safe berries to eat, what plants can heal basic ailments and so forth. When I was a child this was considered as essential basic education. Today, this knowledge is seen as part of a cult and people with this knowledge are “weirdos”.
I enjoy using computers for creating writing, films, art and socializing with people. I enjoy watching some television and dvds so I welcome advances in these technologies and do not condemn them. However, I think I would be a very lost, insecure, afraid and lonely person if I did not set aside time to be with nature.
I believe that nature should always be our church.
Honouring, worship, serving and thanksgiving can be done in so many ways, ways that I feel we should be born to follow. The choices and opportunities are endless so I can only share a few here such as touching leaves, plants, berries, animals, soil and even shit. Yes, it smells awful, but do not be afraid of it as its what regenerates to create the life that gives our cabbages etc..
Trying to grow things, look after things that are growing, always be aware of your place in nature with the same considerations of manners and balance you give to people. Walk barefoot when you can to connect with nature as we were not born with shoes. Its a wonderful way to protect and heal circulation, much more than risking catching a cold. Too many of us have been taught things that have made us become afraid of nature, and even more afraid of connecting to nature.
Though I had not realized it before, when I heard these children being confused and unaware of the sources of their food I also thought back to reactions from travellers on our tours and realized there is a connection.
Travelling on our “Veil Between Two Worlds” journeys of 2007 was much more about connecting to nature than having a guided tour. Though not on our itineraries we walked barefoot a lot, we picked berries, we healed ailments with picked herbs from the simple cure of a dock leaf on a nettle sting, we hugged donkeys, we talked to people about their gardens and sampled raw vegetables lifted straight from the ground, drank pure water straight from the sacred wells, made Bhrighid crosses and love knots from reeds and oat straw and sometimes cooked up gathered sea food from the shores and fungi from the woods for a tasty snack.
This is just a few of the things we did that not only connected us back to nature but also connected us back to our souls. Is this not the work of a church? This is why I believe our most helpful church is nature.
“Around Bhride’s Garden” is more than a guided tour.
So this also explains why most of the tours of 2008 and beyond will be called “Around Bhride’s Garden” because along with guided tours to ancient sacred places, especially wells connected to Brigid, Brighid and Bhride (pronounced ‘bride’) we will engage in our “lost” connections to nature such as sampling foods direct from nature both wild and from gardens, relating to the animals and birds, respecting the balance of the flora and trees and having fund with traditions, ceremonies, music and dance that are connected to nature and ourselves more than printed pages and images from electronic boxes.