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14 February 2024

A Harvest of Love

Creative writing from the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2024, on “SDG 0, the SDG of love and joy, applied to food and farming”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What better a day to share the harvest of expressions of love which budded during a creative writing session on the role of love and joy for transforming food systems? This inspiring moment was hosted by the Conscious Food Systems Alliance (CoFSA) and Satish Kumar, as part of this year’s Oxford Real Farming Conference.

The theme was inspired by “SDG 0”, the unwritten Sustainable Development Goal on love and joy, which can be seen as the ultimate goal of UN Agenda 2030 and “activator” of the 17 other sustainable development goals.

Charlotte Dufour, from the CoFSA Secretariat (UNDP), opened the session by introducing this little-known SDG. Satish Kumar followed by sharing how his radical love for the land, the seeds, the plants, the water, the seasons, pervades every moment of his life – from walking in and taking care of his vegetable garden to doing the dishes after each meal. He shared how nurturing deep connection with the Earth and all living beings transforms simple tasks into sacred acts which provide us with deep joy.

Charlotte then guided the fifty participants into a short meditation which led to 15 minutes of silence, during which they could let their pen flow.

We feel grateful that some of them shared the fruit of their writing with us and gave us permission to publish them here. The series is concluded by the text Satish was inspired to write in that time.

We wish you a heart-filling read…

The mulberry tree
By Antony Melville

Juice full mulberry,
Sweet blood of the summer,
Spread your branches –
Spread your arms
To embrace your neighbours:
Quince, medlar, fig, heart nut, plum,
Living in a circle we can dance within,
And harvest Joy.

For we the makers of the Forest Garden
Planted a seed of love in ourselves,
And opened our hearts to the trees and the bushes,
And opened our hearts to each other
To sit in circle
And nurture joy,
For those to come who will taste the fruit
That is borne of our love
For future generations.

As we celebrate the circuit of the year –
The cold, the wet, the green, the dry, the heat –
We feed the plants with love;
So that they love us,
And bring forth food
With juice and sweetness,
Sunshine transmuted into the blood
Of the mulberry
Which feeds our hearts.

A passionate defender of trees and Nature, Antony Melville is one of the founders and carers of the Marston Forest Garden, in Oxford, UK.

For my mother
By Nathalie Markiefka

       Photo created by Nathalie with Artificial Intelligence

From your womb I was born
From thy bosom I feast
In thy woods I lie down
And dream of a better world

Your eyes I will be
Your mouth and your hands
Your songs you hear me singing
I defy rage, violence and fear.

Mother guide me
To the places where your magic still lives
And teach me the language uniting all life

The wind brings news
Man has spoken
He wants to desecrate your face, measure himself against your power.

Mother I am your face
I am your vessel
Flow into me
Sing through me, laugh and dance and cry through me.

Flow into me
Sing through me, laugh and dance and heal through me.

For thine is the power and the glory for ever and ever.

Nathalie has been immersed in driving Food Systems change through Community Supported Agriculture for over 10 years, realising that the roots of this transformation need to grow within ourselves. She is currently empowering others to unleash their embodied creative intelligence, to craft solutions rooted in alignment with nature’s wisdom. You can find her work here: www.rootingfor.earth

The seed
By Sophie Rackham

Hidden by anger
hatred and pain
expressions of love
dying to be heard

embrace them, the conflict
the hate and the hurt
they’ll guide you
to the start, the seed
the love

Sophie lives in Old Hall Community, East Bergholt Suffolk, together with 50 neighbours who share a big house and look after 70 acres of land. The illustration was drawn by one of the children in the community.

A Spring Call to Bud
By Hannan Currah

Lift up your heads! Lift up your hearts! Lift up your voice. Emerge from the Earth in which we have slumbered, in whose dark brown dampness your hands have been held. Dust off your coat and see the bright buds of what is to come… Feel the sun on your face and remember you are here. See what you are given every day, by the land you call home and the plants that provide.

Gratitude from the heart for all the life on Earth,
Gratitude from the body for the water, earth and stone that holds it all in form, Gratitude from the soul, for all the spirit beings, all the tiny creatures, who move through life unseen,

And gratitude for gratitude! This gift of life that keeps on giving, is always there, to be returned to. Like Mother Earth herself, she does not fade, does not argue, only offers an invitation… A gentle, whole-hearted, unconditional invitation to be in source, the place where all joy, sadness, grief and disarray meld back into one.

Here in Winter, on the threshold of –
Next, as the Earth turns slowly towards the light, breathe into the river beneath the river. Breathe in, to the underneath, the deep dark soil in which we grow, on which we stand, of how and why we move in the world.
be loved.

As Spring emerges, have the courage and tenacity to live in this state of everchanging come and go, of giving and receiving in the dance of life. And let yourself,

Hannan is a young agroecological landworker of Pakistani & British descent, finding her way in the world in Cornwall, UK.

To love Nature is to love life
By Satish Kumar

Nature is not only out there – the forests, the flowers, the mountains, the lakes and the animals. Humans are Nature too. I am as much Nature as the birds flying in the sky. We are all Nature.

To love Nature is to love all and to accept life as it comes, warts and all. To accept pain and pleasure, gain and loss, ups and downs, delights and difficulties with equanimity, without anger or fear: that is love!

“Love is letting go of fear.”

When we love Nature, we love everyone and everything. We love dark nights as we love bright sunshine. We love winter as we love spring, summer and autumn.

We love the whole of humanity irrespective of religion, nationality, race or political beliefs. We love and so we go beyond judging others. We love diversity of opinions, truths and traditions.

Because we love all living beings, we cause no harm to anyone. Judgment and discrimination harms. Hatred hurts. Hatred kills. Love forbids wars. Love heals.

I love land. I love air. I love fire. I love water. I love food. I love flowers. I love people. I love our ancestors. I love our future
generations. I love myself. And I love you! I love you as you are. Through love we help one another. Through love we transform each other. Through love we grow, evolve and transcend. Love transforms.

Cosmos is my country, the planet Earth is my home, Nature is my nationality and love is my religion.

Love liberates me and sets me free.

I am a child of love!

Satish is the Founder of Schumacher College. He was Editor of Resurgence magazine for 40 years. A  former Jain monk, Satish Kumar is a lifelong activist in the cause of environmental sustainability,  social justice and world peace. He is the author of many books, including his latest Radical Love.

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