#GIY / Gardening takes time: what the lockdown has taught us on our relation to time

Will I have enough time?

This is the question I asked myself when the team of the agriculture committee of MIJARC Europe proposed the idea of the Grow It Yourself challenge. I would have to buy seeds, potting soil, put it all in pots and make sure that my plants get enough light but not too much, that I water them enough but not too much… I know today that most of us were wondering about these questions.

What we didn’t anticipate was that the date we had set for the start of our campaign (April 1) would be in the middle of the lockdown period.  Not knowing how long the quarantine lasted, the anxiety that came with the global pandemic, teleworking days that all looked the same, with no interruptions from taking transport or going for a walk… All this has shaken our relationship to time.  Spatial and social inequalities were compounded by temporal inequalities, between those who suddenly had nothing to occupy their days and those who found themselves with even more work, doubled by childcare.

In this context, gardening has emerged almost as a symbol of our questioning of our relationship to time. It is an activity that requires patience as well as a form of slowness. And as I watched my plants germinate, make leaves and then finally the vegetables appear, I became more and more comfortable with the idea that this totally new period we were living through had its advantages in the midst of chaos. For once, I wasn’t coming home from work so exhausted that the only mechanical gesture I was capable of was checking my smartphone.

I read, I watched old movies, I cooked and… I grew life. I hope you’ll forgive me for the possible mawkishness of that statement, but all the same, the quarantine brought me back to basics, and for that I am grateful.

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