Sunday, March 4, 2012
Why did I leave the Garden Writers Association (GWA)?
In a word: Scott's. 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 not be.
Scott's has now also developed a grass which is genetically engineered to resist Monsanto's Round Up herbicide, so that lawns can be heavily sprayed with Round Up. Weeds die, Frankengrass lives.
Scott's. Monsanto. I assume I am preaching to the choir.
So Scott's 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 Scott's 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 funded largely by a 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?
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 Scott's. You buy organic from Scott's and you are underwriting their chemical operations. Until they cease their chemical 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 downright 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.
Update, 3-6-12 - work in progress:
Trustworthy Organic Potting Soils (if you have your own favourites, please let me know):
Organic Mechanics, just bought my first bag
More reasons, if you really needed them, not to buy any Scott's products.
Pesticides used on bird food