Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
Volume 3 Issue 2
Joanna Szabo
Mount Royal University
Bev Mathison
Mount Royal University
Sonya L. Jakubec
Mount Royal University
Sonya Flessati
Mount Royal University
Genevieve Currie
Mount Royal University
Joanna Szabo, RN, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and
Midwifery at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Joanna considers
herself a collectively-minded inquirer and her work explores reflective practice, relational
ethics, ecohealth and complexity thinking in healthcare and community contexts.
Coming from a pediatric and critical care nursing background, she is currently using
poetic inquiry and methods to explore parents’ experience of having a child with a rare
Tilling the Garden of Joy/Sorrow
Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
Volume 3 Issue 2
Bev Mathison is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child Studies & Social
Work at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. As a former public school
teacher and faculty member in a Department of Education, her pedagogical focus rests
within an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. Her way of being is owed to
her interests in ecological mindedness, a strong recognition of the interconnectedness
of all beings and non-beings, interpretive studies, and the role of contemplative practice
in work and life. She is currently embarking on a study of flourishing in the academy.
Sonya L. Jakubec, PhD, RN, is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and
Midwifery at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A community mental
health nurse and community-engaged researcher, her work explores the connection of
lifespan health/wellbeing and physical, social and political environments. She is
currently studying the place of parks and nature in palliative and grief care.
Sonya Flessati, PhD, RPsych is an Associate Professor and Psychologist in Student
Counselling Services at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her
practice is focused on the use of strength-based approaches in the promotion of
resilience, mental and physical health. She is currently exploring the impact of
mindfulness on the well-being of students.
Genevieve Currie, RN, MN, is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and
Midwifery at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her background
is pediatric nursing, community health, and family health. She is currently exploring the
parents’ experience of having a child with a rare disease.
Abstract: A pilot research project turned ongoing program sought to explore the
experience of participating in an inclusive Campus Community Garden. In the confines
of institutional research the project undertook a specific focus on uncovering the
perceived benefits and barriers to participating preschoolers, older adults, individuals
with mixed abilities and their caregivers from residential and intermediate care facilities.
This paper describes a parallel exploration as an occurrent act of art making; an
evolving rhizomatic process of poetic reflection on images and privileged notes from the
field. In this work, the authors uncover the shape, movement, and colour of the joy/
sorrow of tilling the garden through creative expression.
Keywords: rhizomatic complexity, poetic inquiry, campus community garden
Tilling the Garden of Joy/Sorrow
Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
Volume 3 Issue 2
Somewhere in the space between reading philosophy alongside notes from the field
and organizing photographic images of time in our campus community garden, this
representation/restorying and remembering of moments emerged. In this paper, we, a blend
of serious researchers, passionate gardeners, and fondest friends, aim to share our journey
into community growth, provoking, invoking and evoking a sentient research study into
wakefulness and awareness using poetry and photographic images. This paper offers a
rendering of a participatory community gardening and horticultural therapy research project
(Jakubec, et al., forthcoming) that originated in an inclusive community-university garden
site. The field notes from our project provoke the experiences from our tilling/toiling when
read within a theoretical landscape as a “relational-qualitative duplicity” (Massumi, 2011, p.
5). Massumi suggested this duplicity is at the heart of an activist philosophy, which
differentiates an emergent force between gatherings. For us, poetic reflecting invokes
aliveness, breath, movement and breathing through the text with an evocative quality of co-
composting/composing in the garden.
Our collaborative, creative process enabled a movement to deconstruct the
strictures of academic texts, research reports and accounts that could never fully satisfy
the sensory experience of a project set in the enlivening decay of a garden. This
process extended from a participatory research project investigating the experiences of
garden participants (older adults from neighbouring residential care and assisted living
facilities, university students, preschool-aged
children from the university child care centre, as
well as assorted volunteers and visitors to the site).
“Our collaborative,
This project occurred over the course of two
growing seasons, 2016 and 2017, on the garden
creative process
site of an urban university community garden.
enabled a movement to
By the close of our paper, through the acts
deconstruct the
of tilling and toiling, we aim to liberate, aerate, and
shake loose the written form in its distinctions
strictures of academic
(explicating the entanglement and disentanglement
of how words on the page inform and de-form the
texts, research reports
text to distinguish and connect the observer/ed).
and accounts that
This blurring and blending of voices introduces a
departure or flight from the dominant territories
could never fully satisfy
(Deleuze & Guittari, 1987) that challenge the power
and responsiveness of texture, as an ethical move
the sensory experience
(p. 106). The rhizomatic complexity of this act/art
of a project set in the
grounds and foregrounds several questions:
Whose voices get sifted through the sediment that
enlivening decay of a
remains? Who benefits from the shaking of rooted
foundations? How does an activist occurrence hold
a semblance of the tilling of a changing landscape?
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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This rendering aims to strike at the hegemony of how unique people gather, bear
witness to one another and share spaces of meaning-making and lived experience. Not
presuming to know, be or do for others in these precious and precarious ethical
moments of research, we purposefully apprehended the roles and responsibilities
through which diverse subjectivities enter into a relational presence/absence in context.
Rather, this paper draws out from photographic images highlighting the movement and
- sights, sounds, smells, and bonds within the images. Here we share
occurrences that provide a snapshot into what actually happened in our social
gardening practices, which were also shaped by privileged notes from the field. These
visual images come with their own sublime trickiness of being “taken” in the act.
Throughout the text we present our poetic observations intermingled with visual images
to evoke some of the curiosity and wonder in this studied garden-scape of discovery.
Our discovery, as an unearthing, evolves with a snapshot of: i) the poetic structure we
brought to our project; ii) our intentional writing with the same rigor and vigor as
expressed by the gardeners - a tribute to the stories of movement and expression; iii)
recognition of a more responsive, organic process in the research project and reporting;
iv) a noticing of the abilities of diverse beings, together in the garden, with wonder, awe
and the element of surprise; and finally v) a summary of our photographic and poetic
walk through the wildness of this garden.
A Poetic Structure in a Wild Garden
(1997) framework for narrative poetry is useful in terms of
describing poetic representation as using pleated texts to conceptualize the multiplicities
of presences and absences. Richardson encourages the researcher’s use of poetry to
capture and weave the rhythms (e.g., repetitions), tonality, patterns and texture (e.g.,
the layeredness of texts) that comprise speech, where poetry gives voice to participants’
words and voice. Leggo (2008) contends that “poetry invites us to experiment with
language, to create, to know, to engage creatively and imaginatively with
experience” (p. 165) as a means of shaping discursive textual moments as art. It is in
the quiet moments that poetry “brings our attention to dwell,” at times in difficulty as
much as in joy, “evoking affect and gestures that attend to subjugated voices” (Leavy,
2015, p. 77). Hirschfield (1997) suggests that different possible worlds and realities
emerge when perceiving disparate elements and images. In our project, photos
documented and served as a reminder of the activities in our participatory research
project. Our poetic reflection on those photos serves simply to hold the moment and
enable dwelling with those voices that can emerge from the colour and action caught in
time and space.
This is not a photovoice
(Wang & Burris, 1997) or otherwise structured or
theorized rendering, but rather a creative and poetic illustration of the motion and
senses of a time in the garden as part of a larger project. In the social sciences, poetry
offers discussion, attending to the craft of poetry to impart important narratives, and
offers a means of reaching out to an audience (Faulkner, 2009). We heed Faulkner’s
advice by attending to images and observations that tell the story as a tribute to our time
in the garden. The visual exploration of still photos depicting the motion of community
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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and gardening further issues a glimpse into Massumi's
(2011) occurrent art as
experience of the present and anticipation that there is more to be revealed, more to
understand, and more yet to occur.
The language of poetry emerged as we made sense of our notes and images. As
we intermingled sentience with garden metaphors we refrained from the highly
structured, obvious or prosaic
2009), choosing rather, to sculpt
landscapes of poetry with hints of the wildness of our garden. We also attended to how
threads of poetry arose from the complexity of human experience that moved with a
situatedness in each minute event (Galvin & Prendergast, 2016). Our assumptions were
not always self-evident, even as we toiled with these reflections. Rather, we aimed to
hold the rigor with the vigor of our co-participation through curiosity and patience
1992). Simultaneously, we attended to the dominant discourses and
influences that emerged in the person-earth-person (subject-object-subject) relations of
cohabiting with this habitat. The tilling and toiling of our poetic renderings served to
make sense of the images and observations in order to create a comprehensible
account that reflected the purity of the moments and the becoming-ness of being with/in
the garden.
Writing with the Rigor and Vigor of the Gardeners
Noticing tensile moments of humanness
amidst resisting absolutes
of documenting research in academ-ese.
practicing being together
in collective spaces
replete with simple offerings
of tending our garden.
The people tending and toiling in the inclusive campus-community garden were
from many different groups and life experiences, brought together for just a few
moments every week - throughout the growing season (May to September), in a Friday
morning horticultural therapy program. Manning and Massumi (2014) write about being
in the act “as a passage in the ecology of experience” (p. 18), as a sort of unfolding in
the “gateway of moments” (p. 13), shaking us at the core of our identities, standards,
and labels into an active poiesis. A sort of metamorphosis of dissonance (Braidotti,
2011, p. 28) shifted our habitual roles and responsibilities, and the world around our
space felt frozen in time away from these moments in the garden. This shift in roles was
the case for the collection of gardeners we gathered (for example those shown in Figure
1), and also in our reflection on the images and reflective poetry and writing. In this
work we were deviating from norms and redefining subjectivities as each new
occurrence grew new memories. We were called to ask, “Whose memories are these
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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and how are these represented and disseminated?” Questioning tended to be weeded
out in the poetic iterations we performed.
Figure 1: Tending in the garden
Figure 2: Activities at the garden picnic table
Tilling the Garden of Joy/Sorrow
Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
Volume 3 Issue 2
Yearning for touch
in a world of safe distance.
Attending to gestures
As a ritual of sacredness
And emergent soulfulness
At the garden picnic.
Activity and attention feature in the garden images (such as Figure 2), whether
capturing collective or solitary moments, playfulness or deep concentration. As in our
poetic renderings, “ing” endings, symbolic of the flow of becoming, are always already a
singularity for Agamben (1993) and rhizomatic complexity for Deleuze (1987, p. 263).
Deterritorializing possibilities of hospitality, inclusion, and a rootless homing, infused
with nomadic nuances were experienced through our acts of bearing witness to one
another in moments of everydayness (Deleuze, 1987, p. 452). As such, the roaming-
homing nuances serve to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, convert
background into foreground, and reshape mere existence into exhilaration. In accord
with the hope and promise that lies dormant within fertile soil silently waiting to be
awakened, lies the hope of being(s) coming-into-being: a longing for belonging in an all
too transient world.
Figure 3: Reaching across raised beds
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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Eyes entranced
beseeching contact
across raised beds
and leafy greens.
Hands holding touch
Feeling use-fulness
Reaching as/with a prolonging
promised vivacity.
Gardeners in the project drifted in and out as they needed or were able.
Professional caregivers accompanied some participants, connecting to those in their
care in new ways, and meeting with others they may not ordinarily have met in their
day-to-day lives. Regardless of where participants drifted into the garden space from,
everyone was digging into the same beds to co-create and harvest (see Figures 3 and
4). A gaiaosphy, for those drifting and wandering through/within the lifeblood of living
together among the leaves and berries, is a vital spiritual ecology (Zoetman, 1989),
forever shaking the foundations of arbitrary binary and dichotomous labels of age, ability
and reason-ability.
Figure 4: More arms reaching for synchrony
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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Arms reaching in
Holding the warmth
As an embrace of earth and its people.
Nurturing synchronies at play
Attending the garden space.
In the comings and goings, drifting in and out of the garden space, the work was
not simply busy work to perform tasks. Each gathering blossomed into a new and
renewed mandala of colour and splendor. Here a conversation flowed, there a physical
task ebbed, where both nurtured and revealed new stages of growth. Each act
energized by the power and potential that was awakened from its dormancy by the pull
of the collective and the response of the individual. The release was ushered forward
not because this was the task that had been set forth for this day or that, but because of
an all-encompassing trust, acceptance, and loving camaraderie. The body without
organs acts as a mapping of possible movements, enacting one’s subjectivity as if with/
through an intermingling of constructed boundaries - a play of subjectivities amidst the
corporeality that crystallizes the flesh we have in common (Grosz, 1994, pp. 95-96). A
sub-versive mission honours the fragility of being human and apprehends the mystery
(without capture) when language is not enough (Prendergast, 2009), propelling and
compelling mind and body into a oneness so lacking within a culture sometimes too
narrowly focused on analysis, rationality, and logic.
Figure 5: A gardener listens, loves and smiles again
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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Speech in public spaces
where listening is robust.
Voices rippling
into the echoes of trees
Heralding the importance of
Sharing wholeness
with tenderhearted listeners.
Smiles aching to be witnessed
Here holding
the tensile moments
of comings and goings
Interlopers in these sentient bodies
in this garden of experimental wizardry.
Bending bodies
Craving to reach for ...more.
Holding onto the weightedness
of feeling part of
other than managing risks and liabilities.
Figure 6: Bending and extending past the institutional boundaries
Moments infuse the images of what was shared as we connected/dis-connected
in the ebb and flow of the social texture of the garden-scape, imagining at a glance
2008, p.
43) the opportunities and possibilities, as if we had a choice.
Impossible representations captured an instant, beckoning us to pay attention as we
gaze upon the nuances, refusing to appropriate the voice or language of another
(Leavy, 2015), and honouring the gestures that embody the rhythms of sowing and
harvesting our time together. The images depicted in our photographs (such as Figures
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5 and 6) provided a deeper invitation, as though one had been right there, anchoring us
all to the place and time, and suggesting the banal in the absences of what cannot be
seen (Barthes, 1977, p. 39). Like Grosz (2009), we are painting sensations with words,
bringing intensity to the imagined forces and energies, affirming Deleuzian “plans of
composition” as the collective condition of art-making is distinguishing
“blocks of
materiality becoming-sensation” (p. 84). The anticipation of the zones of indeterminacy
between subject and object in the images (such as the activity captured in Figure 7)
attend to the sentience of bodies in motion, in the art/act of gardening.
Listening to the magic
of storytelling
followed by the sound
of little footsteps
knocking on the shed floor,
harkening a freedom,
an awakening of spirit and kinship
in moments of blissful letting go…
Tossing Salad and the Poetics of Institutional Boundaries in the
The growth of language concerning leisure, abilities and access serves as a
constant reminder that we are always already negotiating categories (Connolly, 2011, p.
90). These negotiations require both joys and sorrows, and play-filled qualities. As we
conceded this complex social situatedness, we created space for leisure to breathe the
memories of narrative lives into inquiry (Raisborough & Bhatti, 2007). We aimed to
resist the structures that determine how we fill our space and time with the reproduction
of stereotyped, organized, labeled, categorized roles and relations (Parry, Glover &
Shinew, 2005). We accounted for being lured back to institutional life even in this open
space amidst the re-surfacing nature and permeability of boundaries of the place we
shared in common through sensorial re-conscribed ecologies (Ryan, 2013). Even in the
wildest of gardens (or most participatory and exploratory of research projects), there are
always already structures and boundaries that isolate us from nature and our
Rendering the ubiquitous boundaries
that construct a research project,
with scripted
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Our use of poetry as a method within participatory research was a movement
more than a methodological structure. The approach expanded and contracted in the
cracking façade of tensile, rhetorical masks (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2005, p. 891).
The movement demanded noticing, in particular noticing and drawing out dominant
discourses that shaped identities, roles, responsibilities and the actualities of our
everyday garden context. Researching people in public spaces, however, also
necessarily requires a framing through the institutionalizing roles and forms. These are
forms and frames that impart an otherness and objectification that are always present,
even in the structuring of this text. Our analysis through a poetic and visual form
attempted to engage a simultaneous process of awakening alongside the institutional
realities. In this endeavour we took the opportunity to observe other experiences and
happenings beyond the confines and limits necessarily constructed by research.
Awakening in this way, is a process Hanh (2013) also explains in poetry:
Noticing and being noticed
Colors, scents, textures and movements
Organic flow between Gaia
and the spirit of nonviolent,
collective awakenings. (p. 26)
As we do not have the immediacy of voices of multiple others, the image is held
as a sacred pact that reminds us that our notes in the field are shaped by the
precariousness of being “caught” in an act, even with consent. The images are weaving
the invisible conditions, circumstances and intentions of actual practices and people
when reproducing a social interaction in a particular setting in any iteration (Kemmis &
2005, p.
565). Images provided spaces for inviting uniqueness and
difference and welcoming the human foreignness that had been cultivated and held
hostage in the structure and form of all things (Dufourmantelle, cited in Derrida, 2000).
Where poetic openings shift
Theoretical and philosophical dysmorphic forming
Toward a playful praxis of inciting
And enticing sensory whimsy
Savour the event
In unfolding flavors
Even here in the explications!
Rupturing grammatical accuracies
Creating dis-ease among
Writers, readers
and those bearing witness
To the power of the text
Over its experimental angst
Tossed salad of habitus
At play with our shifting foundations.
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Figure 8: Tossed salad with tangy dressing on the garden picnic menu
Conventions of research were adhered to in the community garden research
project. For instance, human subject research ethics certification was obtained, and
records were kept systematically in an effort to maintain the integrity of data. Other
conventions were experimented with, true to participatory research processes. Just as
we harvested, prepared and tossed interesting salads as a ritual at the end of each
Friday garden session
(see Figure
8), our poetic renderings and photographic
reflections formed an analytic ritual that enlivened the senses for the research team of
listed authors. At play with our nomadic sense-abilities in our garden oasis, we turned to
Braidotti’s (2011) description of discourse to shake and toss around the elements of
discourse within the images and observations from the garden project.
Braidotti amplifies attention on the structural aporia emergent from conventional
theory and philosophy unaccustomed to hybrid, decentralized dialectics that mobilize
and evoke subjective localities
(2011, p.
12). In so doing, discourse, in the post-
structuralist sense is a process of production of ideas, knowledge, texts and sciences,
and practiced in the ritualized cultural, political repetitions, moving “across established
categories and levels of experience: blurring boundaries without burning
2011, p.
36). Leggo
(2008), extends such discursive textual
moments to art, as a vehicle to experiencing sensory perception and provocation with
important potential to influence how we share the stories we live, in our case in the
unique lives coming together in the garden.
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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Noticing Physical and Ecological Ability with Wonder, Awe and
Our participatory research project, purposefully sought to engage people with
disabilities, caregivers, researchers, students, and various community members in a
shared role of “gardener.” In focusing on this shared experience, the embodied realities
of pain, disability, limited mobility, and environmental obstacles - such as the elements
and accessibility problems in the physical space or as dealing with transportation
systems - were held with attentive openness, rather than formed through a labelled
body politic. Wolbring
(2013) challenges the discourses of disempowering and
externalizing corporeality as disability body politics that dictate accessibility by
normative expectations. Such discourses further reinforce ableism in frameworks of
“eco-ability,” anthropocentric approaches to ecohealth
2013, p. 14). We
attempt to shake the superfluousness of the prefix “dis” - where we are obviously and
obliviously able. Gardening without the “dis” (as an invitation to imagine otherwise)
preserved the elements of personhood
(as more than bodies and ableism) that
expressed a just, shared equality in the collective work.
Figure 9: Tending the garden after coffee break
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Institutionalizing insidious sores
invade the organic fertility
with the dis-stancing branding of
diagnoses and protectionism.
What I know about Z
Is his love
for his morning coffee
and smokes
before we begin
the garden inspection
of what needs tending.
All research project data was gathered without a focus on recording aspects of
disease, disorder and diagnosis. Instead the focus was on participants’ experiences in
the garden, and getting to know their interests, strengths and preferences, including
professional caregivers and all involved (see Figure 9). Participants had to be able to
consent to participate and be physically able to be present in the garden, but otherwise
participants simply attended the program and tended to the garden in ways that fit their
abilities and interests, doing so at their own pace. To the point of abilities, Wendell
(1996) contends that the designation of “disabled” serves the purpose of justifying
needs (e.g., the label is required in order to obtain medical and social support services
one needs for survival) and simultaneously creates subsystems of meaning (labels that
identify through othering) that reinforce false perceptions of uniquely lived experiences.
Figure 10: Active and alive in the garden
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Wanting to find social anima
Without stigma
when we become alien
Beyond this ivy perimeter
That grows resistant
to the activities
For the sake of
occupying our seemingly
idle hands.
It’s not okay to be co-opted!
Notice that tomato needs watering!
This garden needs care when we are away!
Speaking in public spaces
seeking to be recognized
as a presence that heralds the coming
of fruitful harvests.
The community garden site established a place for mythmaking of the nomadic
subject, and the qualities of interconnectedness with “critical consciousness that resists
settling into socially coded modes of thought and behavior” (Braidotti, 2011, p. 26). The
nomad in this sense, is already subjugated “in transit and yet sufficiently anchored to a
historic position to accept responsibility . . . confining all
‘others’ to the position of
periphery” (Braidotti, 2011, p. 36). Holding sentient beings in intersecting moments at
the very center of public spheres of influence is a collective affluence, as depicted in
Figure 10. In this place of being seen and heard in a narrative accounting of the
precious/precarious moments we shared in common was a natality of sorts (Arendt,
1958). While gardeners sought the engagement and activity, the activities in our open
and public space also relied on all the gardeners involved, and the tilling and toiling of a
profound mutuality.
Figure 11: Mingling with each other and Mother Nature
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Sowing seeds
thinning seedlings
Tilling soil
Tossing salad
Objects and acts
with one another
With Her.
The idea of digging with another, feeling the weight and texture of the soil
“creates an affinity or sense of belonging” (Pink, 2009, p. 76) to another. Our gardening
work prompted the sharing of memories of childhood farms, remembering the difference
between types of kohlrabi, recalling recipes, or the delicate scent of a stern
grandmother’s sweat pea patch, all as instances of reflexivity in our research project.
Mingling in the garden space and activities (see Figure 11) enabled discussion and
Welcoming nomads
no longer passersby
from far away
Or nearby places
Seeping into the flow of things
Ruminating about the sun
Catching light among the leaves.
Curious about the storied lives
of this hodgepodge of ramblers.
Willing the invitation
to step in,
to taste the harvest.
In our collective en-tranc-ing,
spellbinding reverie.
Honouring each moment began anew, with a certain “daily-ness,” required in any
garden. We quietly attended to the comings and goings of a medley of people of all
abilities and ages, as in Figure 12, collectively occupied by various tasks at hand: the
seeding, germinating, tending, harvesting, preserving, and the ultimate closing clean-up
at the end of season. Somehow, however, all these rituals emerged as though for the
first time, season after season. Noticing both ritual and subtle changes (see Figure 13)
became as consequential as the watering and tilling.
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Figure 12: A medley of gardeners
Figure 13: Are the kids coming today?
J is missing today
Is she okay?
Are the kids coming today?
It’s not the same without them.
Observations of the rituals and changes highlighted excitement and struggle in
the lives of all participants. Unique moments in the garden caught different participants’
attention. The interwoven landscapes and narratives could be threaded through a
memory of “cauliflower that looks like brains.”
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Figure 14: Cauliflower that looks like brains
Subtle and not so subtle changes or interesting discoveries in the garden (such
as Figure 14) imparted a sense of wonder and compassion that extended to all
participants, and awareness of our challenges, struggles, and joys. Caregivers and
colleagues, all observed themselves and others anew.
N is a totally different person here.
He has a smile for everyone and a warm hug
V is ‘ready to go’ for her mornings in the garden,
usually we can’t get her to do anything.
It’s good for me to get to know them
outside the [residential care] Centre.
A dance between slow movements and organicity (Figures 15-20) shapes new bonds
that have force and vitality (Bonta & Protevi, 2004), shifting bodies with the capacity of
attunement to “a whole rhizomatic labor of perception” in the ontology of difference and
repetition (Bonta & Protevi, 2004, p. 146). Complicit in the crystallization of reflexive
moments lingering in the compost heap of memory (Bonta & Protevi, 2004, p. 112),
desiring machines are acting with/in mutual pleasure. The emerging joyful affect is
more than a new cosmic cloak of leisurely collective acting between naturalization and
socialization (Latour, 2004, p. 73). Perhaps, rather, the joy of collective work acts as an
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emergent sentient event. In this way, the senses are expanded as they are reflexively
shared, navigating us in our commonalities and in relation with one another in the
anthropocene - reconfiguring relations with a complex habitat inhabited by the alterity of
the spectral dimensions of the post-human subject (Braidotti, 2013, p. 81).
Figure 15: Idle no more
Longing to be needed
To serve another
And not be served
As “resident,”
Host of foreign-ness.
Hostage to the residue
Of discourses that make
We follow Manning and Massumi (2014) as they write into “the boundary
between experiencing and imagining in the yet untold . . . [an] oscillation composed
within the threshold of express-ability” (pp. 5-6). A gentle, but radical, movement into the
possibilities of the space and time enabled a certain suspension of the patterns held
outside of our shared ground.
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Figure16: Surrendering to this moment in the garden
Weaving the multiplicities
of expectations
and assumptions
rendered in a
research proposal
and project
holding people, space and time
in captivity.
Moving in the making
Where making a move
Requires surrendering to the moment
Different from the ‘must’-ness of instruction
And instrumentalism
Coaxing our awkward togetherness
Into a visceral bewilderment.
Surrendering personhood
To this new epoch of generative synchronicities.
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Figure 17: Surrendering with the garden’s movement
Figure 18: Noticing a surprise bee on the sunflower
A relational ethic of curiosity
unfolding the wonder
and awe
amidst the tensile presence
of bodies
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Figure 19: Gardening Rx with/out a diagnosis
Sparks ignite
When I hear your memories
Your laughter
crinkling your eyes
in ways I have not witnessed before.
Stripping away layers
of box world diagnosed identities
And yet not ever fully
nor completely free of that complicity.
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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Figure 20: Sharing garden secrets
In the event
where a salad or preserve
manifests into sharing of recipes
passed through generations
Holding an invitation of
Drifting in on the wind
And sifted into the soil.
Now blossoming secrets
of the garden
to the privileged listeners
in this place of seasonal wonderment.
Rigid joints
Folding like petals
and nonsense.
Learning about the quirky
Walking Egyptian onions,
which also tell a story
Of our time together
in the garden.
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Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal
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Another Story of Our Time Together in the Garden: To be continued…
This poetic and visual story of our inclusive campus-community garden project
remains a necessarily insufficient and incomplete offering.
A stone dropped into a pond produces a ripple pattern. Two stones dropped into
the same pond produce two ripple patterns. Where the ripples intersect, a new
and complex pattern emerges reducible to neither one nor the other. This is the
emergence of conceptual interference patterning. (Manning & Massumi, 2014, p.
We are nurturing in the texture of these reflexive and wilder moments. We hold the
precariousness of Manning and Massumi’s “rise of the free radical” as a “transversal
force for unsettling the collective attunement” (p. 151), as an apparition, trickster or
spectral manifestation of these events. Attuned to the poetic rendering inspired by static
images filled with robust movement and texture, actual daily activities and stillness can
also be tricked into greater wildness. We are poised to see the beautiful simplicity and
complexities of our garden anew.
In closing this explication and poetic rendering, we leave open the uncovered,
recovered, omnipresent, omniscient joy-sorrow that hovers beyond and within the
stillness of the garden, beyond and within the sounds of resonant communal voices,
beyond and within the questionings, the wonderings, the wanderings, and the
meanderings. Though those voices on the page are now still(ed), now unnoticed, they
yet remain. The voices are permanently etched into the garden-scape, the landscape, in
the same way that “the earth is always faithfully there...[taking] in the diverse continuum
of every life, and its memory [holding and preserving] it” (O’Donohue, 2010, p. 141).
Those voices are alive, their faint yet distinctive echoes everlastingly projected onto and
within the grand, mysterious concealment. In this way, ours is not the final word; indeed,
it is not ours to be had, possessed, or valorized above all others. It is, rather, an
interpretive offering with humility and gentle intention towards provocation, evocation,
invocation and aliveness.
The authors wish to express thanks to co-researchers on the original participatory project,
Judy Glesson, Janet Melrose, Angela Foster, and Elaine Schow, along with Research
Assistants, Che Burnett and Jennifer Pelletier, as well as the many volunteers and
gardeners whose joys and sorrows are alive in the garden and on this paper. We must also
acknowledge the generous funding and support for the original project: Mount Royal
University's Institute for Environmental Sustainability Research Grants; Internal Research
Grants; Faculty of Health, Community and Education Innovation Funds; and TD Friends of
the Environment Foundation.
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