June - Lynn Krogseng

posted Oct 15, 2009, 8:02 AM by Rob Pollock   [ updated Jul 5, 2011, 2:32 PM ]
Urban Abundance:

What does abundance mean to you?
What does an urban landscape filled with abundance look like?

Lynn Krogseng says:

When I think of abundance, my first mental images are of natural abundance: plants, trees, water, fishes, birds; I suppose that’s because many of my most joyful moments have been experienced in hiking or camping in the wild.  Even the second set of images that come to my mind as I ponder “abundance” are plant based or domestic crops.  The ubiquitous horn of plenty from elementary school Thanksgiving decorations is a related image.

Particularly, I think of abundance as “plenty” and without waste.  Abundance is, somehow, opportunity for abundance and gratitude for “plenty”.

Sadly, our culture has fostered an artificial sense of inadequacy because of various widely broadcast portrayals of atypical material wealth.  This has led to an idea that if our cities keep building, we’ll have more of the material evidence of success.  It has led to our elected officials sacrificing environment for “jobs” and promoting the pot of gold at the end of the big development projects at the expense of our farmlands.  Perversely, our foods have become more synonymous with ‘hipness’ than with nutrition and our food fights are less about access to healthy foods than ‘war on obesity’.

Throughout America, we have more physical wealth than we appreciate. Consider that the vast majority of us will lie down tonight on a bed, probably in a room that is not shared with more than one person, able to sleep through the night without real concern for our physical safety and we’ll rise tomorrow and have as much food for breakfast as we care to eat. 

As Americans, we have much to be grateful for.  Because we are living in this current era of technology, we have, most of us in the U.S., access to comforts unimagined in most of the rest of the world or in the whole of human history. Typically, we have ample food and fresh air, freedom of movement, access to healthy food, and virtually unlimited clean water - privileges many of us seldom stop to appreciate.

Here in Vancouver, our streets are reasonably safe and any of us can pretty safely move about at anytime.  This bounty of personal freedom is related to our food abundance.  People who are not hungry are generally pretty peaceful and content, no?  We have abundance in choice – the broad diversity of choices in food, clothing, entertainment, access to information, lifestyles.  Luckily, we have more young people choosing to be farmers and eschewing the corporate farming model, leading to more abundant food choices for consumers.

As the farmers bring their freshly harvested produce into my store, I am conscious of the abundance of harvest and the miracle the earth performs transforming sunlight, soil, and water into growing plants and those plants into food for our families and our animals.  I’m grateful that the farmers share this bounty.

In our region of the Pacific Northwest, we have an abundance of light (okay, maybe not this spring), water, arable lands, and rivers that were [formerly] sources of abundant fisheries.  Urban abundance, for me, means that we are protecting our urban farmlands and waters.  The restoration effort along Burnt Bridge Creek is an excellent example of urban abundance. Walk along there and experience abundant plant and bird life as well as a clean, apparently healthy stream even as traffic whizzes by on the overhead.

Restoration is important and preservation is too.  Protecting local farms is something the city has done right.  I love that we have places like Joe’s Place Farms and Bi-Zi Farms within our city boundaries.  These areas are under constant threat and I hope that we are able to hold off paving (development) of these sites. 

Looking around our urban landscape, I see more evidence of homeowners shunning the old ideals of monoculture and lawn.  Just about every neighborhood hosts some homes that have chosen abundance and diversity instead.  These examples of urban abundance are residential lawns that have been replaced by native plants and edible foods.  These spaces are lovely to look at and low maintenance for the landowners.  In our yard at home, we have raspberries, blueberries and currants growing in the front and side yards, nibbling away at the edges of the lawn.  Part of our front yard is also the kitchen herbs garden.  When the berries ripen, and I’m standing in my front yard snacking on raspberries, I do so with gratitude and a keen sense of abundance.  The native plants and ‘right plant right place’ newcomers, provide plant benefits with minimum maintenance or irrigation required.  These plants are the abundant sources of food for our native pollinators and browsing animals. For humans, the spreading conversion of lawns to food plants is a desirable move to abundance. 

As I look out my store windows, I see large street planters and wonder, “what it would be like if they were planted with edibles rather than day lilies?”  It would be like more urban abundance!

Lynn Krogseng

Neighbors Market Owner and Proprietor