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Why we love digging

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

We’ve been digging a lot lately. Preparing our gourd site. Under the sun, or the weighty spring rain clouds, or the actual spring rain...labouring away with pick and shovel and hands, simple tools, which in some instances are just the most appropriate. The task at hand is slow. Turning over the grass to expose the soil and carefully extracting the grass roots, shaking and scraping off any precious soil and bugs and returning them to the plot.

As we dig, or squat and crumble the soil clumps with our hands as though we’re blending flour and butter for scones, making a soft fluffy bed for our seedlings, we begin to talk. I comment on how there is no opportunity for labour to be like this, to use our bodies and let our minds wander in thought or conversation, either we’re chained to a computer, working our brains to a numb senselessness, while our bodies wither, or we’re constantly on our toes with a dollar-sign over our head as we labour in physical roles, too fast, too hard, for too long, constantly under the pressure or impression, that if we’re talking, we’re slacking, we’re not producing enough.

How do we find time, or space, under a capitalist system and framework, to work in a way that is healthy, that is meaningful, that is still efficient and effective, but without compromising the health of our planet, of people, creatures and natural systems around us and ourselves? How can we, as an organisation, commit to offer this model of work to others? We, as humans, need space to move our bodies and to move our minds, our thoughts, our behaviours and patterns. How are we to evolve, if we are constantly on the grind? How can we expand our reflective capabilities, our ability to empathise, to change our destructive or toxic behaviours, if our mind is chained to a 9-5, to a relentless order of do, do, do and don’t stop? I find myself believing, increasingly, that movement, be it exercise or labour, if done without pressure, actually releases thoughts to wander, conversation to flow naturally, to question, to mull over, to express doubts and emotions...I start to wonder if this type of labour and conversation, is not an essential element of human existence, that we are depriving ourselves of?

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