This idea resonated strongly with me because creating before you consume falls very much in line with the concept of permaculture. As the late Bill Mollison, co-founder of permaculture, is often quoted as saying:
The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.
But since it’s still winter here, I opted to paint and draw things from my garden instead, since I couldn’t actually be in it. Like a good permaculture practitioner, I also wanted this “Create Before You Consume” Challenge to serve multiple functions, to give followers an idea of the various species that we have growing in our food forest and how they are used.
As I grew older, things like art fell away. Although I enjoyed painting and drawing, I wasn’t particularly talented at it so it wasn’t ever going to become a career. Therefore, spending time on it didn’t seem justified, especially if it didn’t serve a “productive” function. Besides which, the intellect was what was prized in our family. Growing up, I was a book smart kid who was expected to do well in school. Creativity wasn’t going to help me excel, or so I thought at the time. And then life got busy with jobs, relationships, family, friends and travel and then later, with building a business; there was no time for hobbies like art.
Thankfully, it’s when I started my permaculture business that I began creating again, not only in the garden but on paper. In garden designs for clients, I would sketch drawings with colored pencils. Besides doodling in my journal, these were the first drawings that I had done in years and I was reminded of how much I like it. If given the choice, I would prefer to draw a design for a client rather than make a digital site plan. Moving a pencil rather than a mouse, coloring instead of clicking.
If you’re interested in seeing the results of my challenge, you can click here to see an album of what I created. Every painting or drawing has an explanation of the species growing in my garden and the usefulness of that species.
A lot of things are going on in this world right now, some good, many bad but all of it is information that we absorb and consume every day. For a sensitive person like me, it’s sometimes difficult to know how to respond, what to do and where to pour my energy.
Yet we need to remember not to forget ourselves in the clamor of this information age, we need to remember to be artists, creators of beauty, of joy, of community, and of course, of food.
So, today, tomorrow or next week, I encourage you to do your own “Create Before You Consume” Challenge. It doesn't have to be painting or drawing either, it can be baking or journaling or writing a poem. And it doesn't have to be for ten days, it can be for three, or five or thirty. And if you're willing, I'd love it if you shared your experience and thoughts in the comments below.