Mother Garden

By: Lex Weinstein

My Mother does not keep a garden
She is the garden, herself
From your fertile flesh I was conceived
Your prolific womb,
The seed from which I sprouted,
sewn in the rich soil of your dreams
grew wholly from love
from courage
a brave journey which birthed me
Joyfully towards the light
A mother’s gift to those souls
Suffocated in darkness
How can I begin to know your entirety?
You are ripe with life, complexity, and power
You are the paradox of creation,
vulnerable and tender to life,
Yet tough enough to endure
Everything that is important I learned from you.
The flowers you grow are people
Your abundance – your community
The ones you shower with affection
With stability
With home
With hope
For every fruit you bear
Every success you shine into existence
Every wisdom grown on the vine of your tangled life
You feed us.
How may I better tend to you?
My mother, Giselle, is a mother of three, and a grandmother to six.
When her grandson Gabriel began speaking his first words, he insistently called her, “House.” We all thought this was hilarious, but not for what some might deem a childish misnomer. Quite the contrary. He nailed the essence of Giselle Posada Weinstein better than any of us could. It was the perfect title for the matriarch of our family, a woman who envisioned and manifested a space of refuge for her extended kin and community, someone who has dedicated her life to displaced immigrant relief work and family advocacy for almost 20 years.

My parents were never scared to use their own hands to bring their visions to life, from flipping houses to rebuilding cars, to designing and constructing the ultimate play fort for us as kids. Little did my mother know her own backyard lawn would have the potential to seed one of her biggest dreams yet; the ability to feed the immigrant families she’s been supporting for years.

My mom remembers the struggles that her parents went through as immigrants in a new country, yet “never did they let us children feel that we were food insecure,” my mom has told me. “Do we have enough to feed our family?” was the daily question that kept my grandmother up at night.

Because of my mother’s lived reality of food insecurity, a struggle many families in America face today, she has devoted her life to social justice work. “Remembering what my parents went through, I want immigrant families to feel that the community is helping them with their struggles. We are trying to lift people’s burden with their food insecurity so they don’t have to be so stressed out about feeding their families.”

My mother now helps to provide aid for 12 immigrant families in her community, offering translation, food delivery, family support and English classes. This year was the first in many that I presented the idea of GROWING the food she delivers where her answer was simply, “okay. It’s time.”

My mother was never a gardener, but like all mothers, she exudes the noble characteristics of a true land steward, that of nurture and care. My mother has inspired my personal path of pursuing a life rooted in reciprocity, stewardship, and community. After seven years of permaculture exploration, living on farms, and recently establishing a non-profit collective of surfers for regenerative agriculture, I finally convinced my Mom to tear up a patch of her lawn and connect the dots between the land she’s on and the people she serves. As a lover of the garden and head of the property’s landscaping, it wasn’t about desire. But the unlearning of the conventional practices she was sold around chemical fertilizers and pesticides took time, and now she has cultivated the confidence to regenerate the soil in her own backyard in hopes of feeding her community. Often the food that is donated is packaged, boxed, and processed with little nutritional value. Now, she will be able to provide the highest grade, fresh, organic produce to not only the four generations of loved ones at home, but her extended family members in the community in need, who have plenty of other challenges on their plate.

I’m so excited that we’ll be growing fresh food and herbs from this garden to brighten their food and make cooking more joyful for them.
As I see my mother’s face light up tending to the rows of her freshly cultivated grow space, I feel shocked that it took so long to get her here. Her entire life has been the work of a seasoned farmer – and a tenacious one at that; someone who has weathered the challenges each season brings with patience and grace, someone who sews seeds of diversity for symbiotic support, someone who subscribes vehemently to a mindset of abundance over scarcity. My mother did not transform into a farmer because she began growing, the garden simply revealed who she truly is at her core, who she has always been, and who she strives to be in her day-to-day life – a proud steward of planet earth, and a source of sustenance for her community.

Thank you to all Mothers, alive and passed, for being inherently just that – the source of all life. May you be reminded of who you are in all of your creative power, as we, your beloved offspring, cherish and honor you and the stories that brought us here, today and always.

Lex Weinstein is a Cuban-Jewish/American surfer, storyteller + spiritual ecologist.

She is the Creator and Co-founder of Sea + Soil, a non-profit collective committed to reconnecting and regenerating ecosystems and communities through education, storytelling, and earth stewardship. Lex hopes to leverage the influence of surf culture to cultivate reciprocity through the principles of Permaculture, Ecopsychology, and community care, with the ethos that for every wave we take, we must give back to the land in return, so that we may continue to enjoy the limitless gifts of Mother Nature for generations to come