Ode to an Edible Poet

Last week, I received an e-mail from Seattle community gardener Deb Rock, a fireball who keeps me in the loop on edible garden goings-on in the Emerald City.

Attached to her note was a poem recited at a Seattle local food movement fundraiser held earlier in the week; the poem, entitled "Food Warrior," was written by Michael Seliga, a young gardener passionate in both word and deed.

His poem, posted below, encapsulates many themes that are dear to me -- local and seasonal food when possible -- but he takes it a huge step further by actually getting in the dirt and teaching others to do the same.

Originally from California's San Fernando Valley, 25-year-old Seliga is the garden coordinator at Seattle Youth Garden Works, a hands-on education and employment program for homeless and at-risk young adults (ranging in age from 15 to 22). Since he began working with SYGW last summer, Seliga has worked with 30 kids, who learn how to grow their own food and sell it at nearby farm markets. They earn minimum wage, plus a share of the profits from market sales.

In addition to his day job, Seliga and a friend run a side business, Cascadian Edible Landscapes, which offers edible gardening and composting services.
We've all heard the expression "Every day is Earth Day," an idea that we all aspire to practice yet are slow to implement into our daily routines. In the case of Michael Seliga, the expression comes bursting to life, one garden plot at a time.

Food Warrior
By Michael Seliga

I - am - a - food - warrior.
I love to grow and find food.... and always strive to bring the positive attitude
I am a food warrior;
I will provide... even if I have to drive through the night to dumpster dive
I am a food warrior;
I Propagate leek from seed, and always seek to feed the meek in need
I am a food warrior
I'm ok with making it chee-sy.... and know doing the right thing ain't always easy
I am a food warrior;
I become seasoned with each season of working with earth and water
And do so because in the sea and sun, I see my son and daughter.

I understand that we must care for the land
And am here to take a stand against the tyranny of the bland...
I jive with chives, work hard to grow bright-lights chard
I must have my mustards spicy and prefer my red pepper Charred
Since we can't eat gold, I preach EAT YOUR YARD,
and help you grow Golden beets
I Rock out with Broccoli, and make many tasty treats.
I'm not a thug that cruises the block with drugs and a glock
but I am a gangster of hugs that busts up concrete.
I plant (and eat) 6 different kales, and diversify crops in case one fails
I scream and shout when Brussels sprout,
decorate concrete towers with wild-flowers,
and launch spoiled avocados at oil-greedy autos
I spin aches away with spinach everyday.
I'm keen on quinoa and take town giants with magic bean stalks.
I'll toil in the soil of the temperate NW,
with a smile on my face and a baby on my chest.
At the end of the season, I don't cry.... I plant winter rye. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
But -- I'm only one Guerilla gardener adding fodder to this Food Fight,
Taking over empty lots with garden plots tonight

The mission of this underground movement of sophisticated earthworms is:
1. "to overgrow the government"
2. to create sweet peace by growing sweet peas
3. to be a vocal group that makes focal the economy local
We are fed-up rebels in country green houses
We are radicals in the city preparing Rad dishes
We are Rabble rousers dining at round tables
We are evangelical collectives of rhizomes
preaching food, NOT bombs,
seeking food, NOT lawns,
Squashing the status quo with rosehips and lemon balm
We think in spirals, our dividends are smiles
We mediate with a place and medicate with food to age with grace
We do our best to protest death machines and harvest fresh greens in the NW scene.
Our mission is to propagate life and we will not be stopped
We listen for rain, love light, and want food security -- not cops
Because we know our food system is not the Safeway,
we're seeding more literal and metaphorical crops.

I compost Food scraps, and like Food wraps for snacks, so I wrote these pages
I want this Environ-mental, Eco-Logical movement to be contagious

I am a food warrior
I am a food warrior
I am true warrior ?

By Kim ODonnel |  April 23, 2007; 10:31 AM ET Community Gardening
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Excellent and sincere thoughts. Do you want all of us to return to making our own foods? A terrific source for this movement has been and always will be Martha Stewart. The original "green" person that just happened to make a lot of "green"!
While it is an admirable ambition, I don't know if it will work in the United States anymore. Perhaps, it would work in underdeveloped countries where enough food could be grown by their peoples to sustain their lives.

Posted by: Jean | April 24, 2007 6:11 PM

it's one of the most powerful ways to protect our planet, our food supply and ourselves..

way to go Michael!!!

Posted by: Maria | April 25, 2007 4:50 PM

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