The subjective yield

Grey Lindley

In this day and age of materialistic orientations, “yields” in cropping, gardening and farming, and really any kind of work are almost always described in material terms either by weight, cash or other measures of material substance. But there is a whole other kind of yield — a yield I consider to be an essential result of any kind of endeavour — the subjective yield.

The subjective yield is that yield that is not material or matter based (or ‘objective’). The subjective yield is the dignity, joy, pleasure, happiness and mental (for want of a better word) well-being, depth and quality of being, creative flourishing and personal development (or lack of all those things — a negative yield, I suppose) that one finds or receives as the produce of their efforts. The efforts that I’m writing about specifically in this instance being home gardening.

Drying herbs for use in the kitchen for teas and for flavouring meals can be seen materially as a very minimal yield. It’s hard to justify drying more than a few kilos of herbs per year for a small kitchen. But anyone who’s done it knows the tremendous satisfaction and pleasure that comes from doing it that I would describe as, well, priceless. You just can’t measure it in any material term. This effect is only amplified with diversity of harvests and lengths of season. Actually it can be winter harvests that are the most inspiring — harkening the coming season of further bounties just around the corner — or using dried stored foods from your summer garden carries the happy scents and rememberences of the spring and warm sunny days from last year. These things too you cannot buy in a shop with money. You can only harvest them yourself.

You may well know, it’s truly amazing how many plant and animal, fungal and microbiological species can inhabit even the smallest of gardens. Without having to travel to exotic locales we can have a deeply rich experience of the wonders of the natural world in our own gardens. With a microscope we can wonder at the microflora in our soil, marvel at earthworms — a form of life hundreds of millions of years old, gawp at the fruits of fungi, the beauty of plants and flowers, the endless multitude of insects and birds and creatures and the lovely lovely sky. An ecological passion as a basis for your garden not only provides you with an endless abundance of healthy fresh nutritious food, but also a depth and quality to your life not available on the supermarket shelf. This is another hidden yield, a secret yield of personal joy and simplicity, peace and wonder.

But the subjective yield is far more profound than that. The subjective yield is not just for you. It’s for all the creatures you share your garden with. It’s an essential aspect and value at the heart of any ecologically focused gardening: the garden is a symbiosis between you your family friends and all the organisms that share it. Together only is that garden made and together it is considered. In this way the subjective yield is considered to be a harvest for all the creatures in your garden. For example: to encourage a rich and diverse soil ecosystem I mulch my beds with leaf mulch in winter — that means. a family of blackbirds that inhabit the garden have a microcosm where they can happily forage for their chicks and raise their spring family. The slugs and snails (I’m fascinated and very proud of the slug and snail diversity and populations in my garden) live in unhurried snailey snooziness — they don’t need to fear me. And I think this is a critical aspect of the subjective yield — an overall and pervading sense of fundamental safety.

I’ve been round the houses a couple of times now and in the course of that investigated and experimented extensively with meditation and collective consciousness. To skip to the end of that story I’ve come to believe* that:

  • Consciousness is aspatial i.e. It can traverse the space between entities. For example I have repeatedly known of distress or joy in friends before hearing of it

If this is indeed true, it has important relevance to the nature and method of aspiring to great subjective yield. Acting on these beliefs I run a ‘no kill’ garden — I don’t intentionally kill any slugs or snails or any other animals in my gardens. And I genuinely aspire to provide the happiest life for all organisms in my garden home. That includes plants — I try and leave them alone as much as possible and when I do take harvests I try hard to do it in such a ways as to leave behind a happy and healthy strong plant. You can achieve this by growing abundantly so when you do harvest there’s a lot more than you need. This means the plant can stay healthy which means the soil and its microflora will stay healthy leaving a healthy basis for a thriving ecosystem.

I do pull weeds (I aspire to have only weeds I want so they are never removed as a species) and other creatures in the garden kill — the blackbirds eat worms, the frogs and toads and newts eat slugs and the like. The robin eat insects and so on. But I don’t kill animals, and I think the intention I have to create a safe haven of living sustainable friendly diversity helps create a positive subjective environment — the collective subjective environment is a generally positive one because the organisms that live there are genuinely cared for. I strongly suspect the state of mind and being you bring to a living system feeds back within that system, is a part of this system.

I’m personally not ensconced with Gaian beliefs — the version where the entire planet is a all intelligent deity. I think they’re flakey and badly thought out. I think part of the reason people champion Gaia is out of an instinctive emphatic desire to champion the subjective aspects of nature. I feel this need too, and I would go so far as to say the collective consciousness is a fundamentally binding aspect of ecosystems yet to be discovered by science. However it’s critical to understand — it’s not self aware consciousness — not intelligent problem solving consciousness — it’s largely benign by comparison, but bind it does. If this madness I’m professing does come to actually make real sense, then, we have a role here — to infuse this meshwork with great intention, love and a concern for the wellness of all life. And like many great developments in the world, they can start in your own backyard.

In our growing practices and in all walks of life — I believe we should be clear about when we abandon consideration of the subjective yield and why. We should raise its importance to equivalate material yield and we should champion its reality as fundamental to any wholeness in human beingness and sustainable, worthy cultures.

*By “belief” and “believe”, I mean just that. This is an idea that exists in thought. Not considered by me to be some absolute irrevocable conviction. If I find evidence that gives reason to dispel and change this belief, I will.



Organic, no dig, perennial, ecologically focused sustainable low maintenance experimental forest gardening, meadow gardening and kitchen garden culture

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Organic, no dig, perennial, ecologically focused sustainable low maintenance experimental forest gardening, meadow gardening and kitchen garden culture