It’s fun these days—
these days of scary climate change—
to be with people
who are dedicated to growing food
in consideration
of the changes.
The USDA has changed its
plant hardiness zone map,
an official indication—
not that we who grow needed one—
that it’s warming.
After last summer
here in Oklahoma
in which growing food
was almost impossible
(we are just now discovering
that the long-time asparagus beds
are dead,)
it would be easy to lose heart.
And, in moments, we have.
Then spring comes
and hope springs again.
I was at a St. Patrick’s Day party
sponsored by Sustainable Oklahoma City
and every conversation
was about what people are doing
differently
in their gardens this year.
Much of it has to do
with growing under shade.
And mulching.
And water catchment.
And finding new varieties.
(One friend is going to try
tomato seeds from Iraq.)
Everyone is planting early—
two to three weeks before
the traditional last-frost date
(which happened, evidently,
in mid-March rather than mid-April.)

Things are moving along rapidly here.
Suddenly, it feels like time to get all those seedlings
in the soil.
Our neighbors’ pigs
have rooted up much of the bermuda grass
where the new high-tunnel, unheated greenhouse
will stand.
(We’ll let you know the date
for the greenhouse-raising.)
Other people we’ve met
raised tomatoes in shaded space
last summer
and happily share what they’ve learned.
(Plants need moving air too,
and moist air, if possible.)
It’s going to be a busy summer
with a big learning curve.

It dawned on me,
standing there on a front porch
in Oklahoma City
on a beautiful spring evening
surrounded by excited, committed people
talking about growing food sustainably,
that this is a new kind of community.
People are eagerly sharing
what they’re learning
about growing food sustainably
in a warmer climate.
Just yesterday another email arrived
that describes how to grow food
on mounds of rotting wood—
hugelkulture.

So last summer’s drought—
and the frightening thought of another,
as the warming continues—
is the catalyst
for new ideas,
creative, new beginnings,
inspired learnings,
community-building
among gardeners and farmers.

Perhaps we are experiencing
what Thomas Berry described
in The Great Work:

As we enter the twenty-first century, we are experiencing a moment of grace. Such moments are privileged moments. The great transformations of the universe occur at such times. The future is defined in some enduring pattern of its functioning.

We are now experiencing a moment of significance far beyond what any of us can imagine. What can be said is that the foundations of a new historical period, the Ecozoic Era, have been established in every realm of human affairs. The mythic vision has been set into place. The distorted dream of an industrial technological paradise is being replaced by the more viable dream of a mutually enhancing human presence within an ever-renewing organic-based Earth community. The dream drives the action.

But even as we make our transition into this new century we must note that moments of grace are transient moments. The transformation must take place with a brief period. Otherwise it is gone forever.