"Dharma in the Dirt", NYT highlights organic gardener, zen master Wendy Johnson

9 years ago

In her  Where Organic Gardening and Meditation Meet, Alameda Garden's Claire Splan point to this NYT Article, Dharma in the Dirt, by Patricia Lee Brown.  The article profiles Wendy Johnson who is part of the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Northern California.

Ms. Johnson is one of the originators of organic gardening in the US, and a Zen Master who lived at Green Gulch for 25 years. From the NYTimes piece:

Long before Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver wrote best-selling books about eating foods grown locally, Ms. Johnson, with a long-necked English watering can perpetually in hand, was cultivating an awareness of how lettuce grown au naturel can also feed the soul.

Again from the article:

For Ms. Johnson, who occasionally waters the Buddha statue in her greenhouse to, as she says, “bring him to life a little bit,” gardening is about far more than Gravenstein apple trees or David Austin heirloom roses. It is to literally know “the heart and mind of your place,” and in so doing, to know your own heart and mind as well. “I am often most alert and settled in the garden when I am working hard, hip deep in a succulent snarl of spring weeds,” she writes. “My mind and body drop away then, far below wild radish and bull thistle, and I live in the rhythmic pulse of the long green throat of my work.”

Gardening at the Dragon's Gate is the new book by Ms. Johnson. From the publisher's notes;

For more than thirty years, Wendy Johnson has been meditating and gardening at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in northern California, where the fields curve like an enormous green dragon between the hills and the ocean. Renowned for its pioneering role in California’s food revolution, Green Gulch provides choice produce to farmers’ markets and to San Francisco’s Greens restaurant. Now Johnson has distilled her lifetime of experience into this extraordinary celebration of inner and outer growth, showing how the garden cultivates the gardener even as she digs beds, heaps up compost, plants flowers and fruit trees, and harvests bushels of organic vegetables.

Gardening at the Dragon's Gate did not hit my radar until Clare mentioned it. Now I'm going to seek it out and and add it to my growing list of summer must reads.

What books are you adding to your list?

Elsewhere on Ms. Johnson and Green Gulch Farm:

As part of SFGate, Don Lattin invited Ms. Johnson to come visit his garden in San Francisco:

It's not a long drive from Green Gulch, but it seems a world away. When Johnson arrived for our meeting, I was sitting on a crumbling section of curb along busy Buena Vista Avenue, pulling crab grass out of a little hole in the concrete, right where the No. 19 AC Transit bus stops and lets off its passengers many times each day.

Welcome to my world, Your Holiness.

Javier C. of Teenage Glutster is a young foodie who hitchhiked from East LA to the Green Gulch Farm to spend time with Edward Brown.

..the whole experience was probably one of the best in my life so far. He said it was going to be hard coming back to “real life” but I had no idea…

tricycle editor's blog declared Everybody Loves Wendy!

Debra Roby blogs her creative life at A Stitch in Time and her mundane life at Deb's Daily Distractions .

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