Sunday, March 4, 2012
Why did I leave the Garden Writers Association (GWA)?
In a word: Scotts. As in Miracle Gro.
Yes, I have used crack for plants, too. In The Beginning, my potted plants loved it. And since they did, I did. But then I started to listen to my conscience. I knew I was doing something bad (but it felt so good!). I knew that blue crystals do nothing for the soil itself. Contribute nothing. Send worms slithering off and nematodes to nematode heaven. Dead soil. And if you happen to be a strip mine in Florida, or a Pacific atoll, your phosphate contribution destroys you. Goodbye Florida, goodbye, coral atoll.
Soil needs to be alive and applying synthetic fertilizer is a great way to ensure that it will die.
Scotts has developed a grass which is genetically engineered to resist Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, so that lawns can be heavily sprayed with Roundup. And guess who is the sole distributor of Roundup? Scotts.
So Scotts underwrites and partners with The Garden Writers Association, I find this jarring, to say the least. You would swear that organic gardening practises and environmental awareness had not percolated through to this well-connected organization whose members are writers, editors, authors, gardening personalities, photographers. In short, people who are informed.
What century is this?
So I did not renew my membership. It did not help that the cover of their members' directory, the size of a small telephone directory (remember those?) boasts an ugly corporate planting of stiff yellow...mums. Mums. Talk about unimaginative gardening, robotic consumption, a fall monoculture.
A leading local member of the association, by way of explaining the Scotts connection, told me that since they, Garden Writers, are an NGO, they have to accept money from whomever would like to support them...
And would Scott's advertise with the GWA if their practises were criticized vocally and visibly within those member pages? I don't think so. Admit it. The GWA wants their money and they don't care where it comes from. Somebody drank the bright blue Kool-Aid.
I cannot wrap my head around the contradiction, and I cannot be part of it. We are awash in information. How can you call yourself a gardener of the 21st century and belong to an organization underwritten by a synthetic chemical giant? How? How can you not ask questions? Like...where do the ingredients in this fertilizer come from and how are they manufactured? How do I feel about genetically modified lawn seeds that promote the application of poison? How do I feel about poisoning birds via the birdseed I sell?
Does Scott's have an organic line? Yes, and I tried some of it last year. For some reason my plants (vegetables) hated it and turned yellow it. I also tried Whitney organic soil, which was great, before I realized that that company been bought by Scotts. You buy organic from Scotts and you are underwriting their synthetic chemical operations. Until they cease those operations there is no cause to celebrate these sops to organic gardeners.
Would I like to belong to Garden Writers? Yes. It is a large and influential organization that offers many types of support and perks for members. And - if you pay their hefty entry fees - you can win sweet awards for writing and photography (in addition to my $80 annual membership in a tight financial year I found that too much to swallow).
In short, I believe that the GWA is a dinosaur out of touch not only with the times but the basic tenets of good gardening.
Does the GWA promote organic gardening and healthy practises? Why, yes. But explain the lie. Because as long as a chemical giant helps fund their operations, a lie it is.
I find it backward, inappropriate and irresponsible to provide a civilizing platform for a company that pays lip service to sustainable gardening while churning out the blue crystals and chemical-laden potting soils of dubious origin.