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From Karmê Chöling’s organic garden:

Many people ponder how humanity can continue its proliferation on planet earth with its limited material resources and our rapidly widening ecological footprint. I am simply a small scale organic gardener who has been cultivating his plot of land, first in Holland for ten years and then in Barnet, Vermont for the last twenty years.

The question I ask myself is how can we grow our food sustainably so that future generations will still be supported by the basic elements, the micro organisms, the plants and animals of our embattled planet. How can I help foster an interest and appreciation, also among hardened skeptics, for the dazzling interconnectedness of life on earth. 

Chard from KCL GardenThough the challenges ahead are clearly daunting, there is a growing enthusiasm around the world, from China to Vermont, to eat organically grown food and shrink our carbon footprint. The United Nations i.e. just came out with a study (‘The Right To Food’) in strong support for agro-ecology; “ Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are environmentally sustainable and socially just”.

The purpose of this blog is twofold; to share with you my, and my co-workers stories and experiences with cultivating a beautiful bio-diverse one acre organic garden in Vermont. And secondly how my involvement with the Shambhala and Buddhist wisdom traditions have helped me stay positive and inspired. 

In this first blog entry I want to take you to our Karmê Chöling garden gate. I have developed a ritual where, before entering the garden, I consciously unload all my psychological baggage; preoccupations, expectations and judgements, so I can enter with an uncluttered mind. 

Just as trees drop their leaves every fall, quite elegantly, you too can for a moment, let go of your busy scheming mind. You might feel naked and exposed, but it creates a very fresh atmosphere full of creative possibilities. This way you step into the garden with your senses wide open.

Instead of being weighted down by feelings of responsibility or fear that a superbug descended on your garden overnight, you allow yourself to be surprised, whether painful or pleasant. You ‘take it as it comes’, as Jim Morrison sang.

Even when an old familiar voice whispers in your ear to speed-up and not lose your edge of cleverness and productivity you can train your mind to hold its horses. If fact, you might discover that if you allow yourself to relax for a second, in this open space with no agenda, the garden begins to communicate to you in much more intimate and subtle ways. 

Not only do the flowers appear more vibrant, you also smell the earth with subtle distinctions, you feel the breeze against your skin, you become more receptive to your co-workers needs and you feel ready to relate with whatever challenges  show up.  

This easy trick or method of ‘stop, drop and meet the world of the senses free from commentary’ can be repeated many times through the day. In the middle of harvesting a long bed of spinach for instance, you remind yourself to stand up for a moment, look at the skyline and feel the richness of the space around you. There are many variations on this theme possible. See what works for you.

Slogan of the week; Stop, drop and touch the speechless sky.

Jan Enthoven


Jan EnthovenJan Enthoven, Master Gardener, descends from a long line of Dutch fruit and vegetable growers. Interested in organic farming since childhood, Mr. Enthoven visited renowned Buddhist farmer-philosopher, Masanobu Fukuoka during his travels through Asia in 1982. Inspired by Mr. Fukuoka’s approach, Jan embraced ecological farming methods, and his farm became organically certified in 1983.

Drawn to the Shambhala teachings, Jan visited Karmê Chöling in 1988. Delighted by the people and landscape of Vermont, he agreed to be Karmê Chöling’s master gardener. Since that time, Jan’s organic garden has drawn thousands of visitors, and Jan has mentored many garden enthusiasts. He teaches garden internships for new and experienced gardeners and has written articles for newspapers and magazines.

 

 

 
 

2 Comments

  1. All right, Jan! BTW, your spinach is head and shoulders above what passes as spinach in the supermarket. Yum!

     
  2. Ann Cantelow says:

    Yes! Let’s all train our mind to hold its horses! I love visiting the garden every time I take a program at KCL.

     

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