By Paula-Noel Macfie, PhD and member-owner
I recently purchased my first home for my family. I chose a foreclosure home that gave me a low mortgage payment, and a lot of remodeling and yard work. After digging out all of the shrubs, unwanted plants and bushes – I was left with several stumps around the yard and great deal of dirt. One root in particular, gave me a real workout.
Being who I am philosophically, I met the root with an open mind and a willingness to be present with each dig of the shovel and every pull of the deeply-gripping root. The experience navigated me through layers of psyche, causing me to reflect on what it meant to dig for that root, and all of its tentacles – to unearth it and to prepare the land I am caring for to grow food, nurture the local butterflies and bees, and feed my children. The root wanted me to work for it.
Many roots, like this one, run deep… especially our ancestral roots. My great-great-great grandfather, Samuel Nixon (Nykson), survived the Irish Famine at age 17 and arrived in Harrisburg, Oregon in 1856. I often imagine what it must have been like to survive a famine and to leave your home because peoplearound you are starving and dying. I try to imagine it from the home I sit in. I just can’t.
My ancestors realized that there was no food except for the minimal preserves from farming and somehow, made it to Oregon. There was a connection with the land, a deep root and relationship, that three generations down the line was almost completely forgot about it, until I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had the realization/consciousness to begin to heal it with nutrition. I firmly believe that my nutritional disease is directly related to the disconnection I have
from the roots of my ancestors and the genetic memory of the survival state of famine. It was passed down from generation to generation to override the body’s own nutritional needs so those around you could live. Thankfully, farming and gardening made it down the line as well.
When my grandfather Nixon sat down at his table, his food didn’t travel far to get from the farm to the table. It was harvested at its peak, on his farm and eaten with its full and complete nutrients. What was lacking in me is the connection to the culture I receive my foods from, the tradition of how food is grown, how it is harvested and how it makes it to our table. I now have children and have been schooled by indigenous elders about remembering and reconnecting my
ancestral roots. My children are being raised in the city with a plentiful garden and all of the dark leafy greens they can eat. They can climb an apple tree to pick apples and bake pie, and soon chickens will provide eggs to scramble. All of our compost will feed the chickens and the garden. It’s as close as I can get to healing the relationship I have with the land I live on and the ancestors who made it possible for me to be here.
Eating from the land of the Pacific NW that my great-great-great grandfather traveled to and farmed, surviving famine and death, along with shopping at markets, co-ops and farms, growing gardens and supporting urban/rural farming are the greatest gifts I can give the next generations. I do not know the future of food, and part of me is uneasy about it, yet I do know that it is important for my children to know how to grow their food, where to find it direct from the farm and eat well. The Montavilla Co-op will make it easier for me to access these foods, contribute to the community having access to these foods and to educate the importance of whole food diet and nutrition for healing disease. Remembering our roots, eating well and shopping locally heals our Earthly home, our community and ourselves.