Monday, February 28, 2011

Changing The World… One Garden At A Time

I'm generally relatively optimistic about winter. While we get a couple of months of snow, our area has relatively little fear of weather-related catastrophes... blessedly few tornadoes, monsoons,  landslides, devastating earthquakes, etc. Winter is frosty and inconvenient, but I find that if I make time to play outside once in a while, I appreciate the beauty and am invigorated by delicate snowflakes, icy tree branches and crisp mornings.. BUT by early March, I generally have had MORE THAN ENOUGH  opportunities to catch snowflakes on my tongue and watch delightedly as my Golden retriever plunges his head into snow piles and comes up with a snow covered face.  It's time for spring! And spring means planning my garden, planting seeds and dreaming of green growth, warm soil and the sense of rebirth that spring brings.

And when I think of seeds I think of a local nonprofit that uses seeds and gardens to heal the scars of war-- scars  inflicted upon people, upon nations, and upon our earth:

Sue Johnson is the founder and director of Seeds for Peace, a non-profit organization that provides seeds and gardening tools to people affected by war, disease, ethnic strife, natural disasters, and poverty. In 1998, a Saratogian newspaper article planted the idea for "Seeds of Peace", gardens for war torn areas … and with unflappable tenacity Sue germinated tiny mustard seed of an idea into a project that has benefited 5,000 to 10,000 people worldwide!

In 2000, with the help of local volunteers, Seeds of Peace was able to provide seeds for eight "peace gardens" in Bosnia and Herzegovnia. The gardens provided a safe and supportive environment where people from different ethnicities work side by side to grow food for their families. The Bosnian War displaced over 2.2 million people, forced men and women into concentration camps, and resulted in a death toll around 97,000 people The Seeds for Peace beneficiaries were war widows and children trying to cope with the devastation of years of war. This isn’t just about food; it’s about healing and reconciling.

The packets of seeds and gardening tools Sue’s organization sends overseas enable war-weary and storm-stricken people to feed themselves, to regain human dignity, and even to work peacefully beside those they once called enemies. Sue tells the story of two war-traumatized women. One, a Bosnian lost her entire family; the other a Serbian lost her two children to the war. In a country filled with hatred, the two women have turned the earth, planted seeds, watered, weeded, harvested, shared the food with other battle-traumatized women … and they have become best friends. Peace is not achieved by governmental cease fire agreements… it is achieved by people building bridges that transcend the violence, devastating losses, and hatred. It is achieved by planting seeds for peace.

Sue visits women in these impoverished countries. Although the skin color, clothing, and language are very different, when she sits with them, gardens, cooks over open fires, they are as familiar to one another as sisters.

Recently the community in Bosnia that Sue visited and assisted in 2008 was in an article by the Communty Gardens Association. click here to read the article  Sue commented, "The article captures the real meaning of these community gardens. These Bosnians are still our biggest recipient of seeds and are in desperate need of help. I plan on raising funds for their spring season.  We need $ 1200 for plowing, maure and fuel for the greenhouse water pump."

You can help by sending donations to

Seeds for Peace
PO Box 10
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866  

For more information about Seeds for Peace, visit their website  http://www.seedsforpeace.net/index.html  

No comments:

Post a Comment