"It's really pathetic," said a friend, "that a 5p charge should make the difference." He was lamenting the fact that, despite being a sailor, despite spending his time on the ocean, despite knowing the terrible pollution caused by plastic bags etc, it was only when the paltry tax came in that he began to remember to take a bag to the supermarket. I was reminded of this while reading the recently published second book of John Walker's Digging Deep series.
For those of you who missed my review of Digging Deep Book One when it came out before Christmas time last year, these volumes bring together John's thought-provoking articles which were originally published in Organic Gardening magazine.
An intriguing "what if?" approach runs through this second volume, a view firmly fixed on what might happen if we started to think about working together. In the fourteen chapters, I find myself in sympathy with many of John's ideas. A couple of years ago, I was struck by the difference that fenceless gardens might make and, in Waste of Space, John imagines the eco-benefits that pulling down fences might have, while making green spaces properly useful. Or how might garden centres react to our rejection of the packaging that often accompanies plants? How about a dedicated Freegardening extension to Freecycle? What about combating the power of supermarkets with Earth Centres, hubs of local horticultural knowledge that also pooled skills and grew community?
There's no doubt that we're a long way from implementing many of the ideas - you might not consider all of them desirable. But taking as he does a sideways look at our current problems, and publishing these articles at a time when political norms seem to be withering like a Round-Up treated weed, John encourages a clear-eyed examination of the status quo that you could find yourself applying to your own gardening activities.
Any moment now, Digging Deep Books III and IV, the final two of the series, will be published. Each in this series is a slim volume attractively presented with lovely suede-feel covers featuring photographs taken by John. All feature the wryly humorous style that made the first volume so easy to read. They'd make great stocking fillers for Christmas, or why not treat yourself to all four and catch up with some radical, earth-friendly ideas over the New Year? Order from Earth-friendly Gardener.