Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 - Page 30


Planting Seeds for a Balanced Life

A Touring Musician ’ s Journey into Growing Food
By Mimi O ’ Bonsawin

Touring is hard work ; rehearsing , performing , managing your career , booking gigs , planning releases , and keeping your heart in the game and your creativity soaring . It ’ s tough . Why not feed your body as you feed your soul ? Grow your own food .

Two years ago , my partner and I moved from Toronto to a small town . For years , we toured and made music full-time , spending lots of time on the road . We decided it was time to establish ourselves in a place we love . We call it our gnome stead ( it ’ s like a homestead but smaller ). All summer , we bounce from festival to festival , and each second in between , we water our garden , harvest our food , and preserve it for the long restful but productive winter ahead . Somehow , there is a beautiful flow between touring and growing , and I love it ! So , let ’ s talk food growing . Why ? Touring can be hard on the body , and road food is even worse . So why not have amazing , nutritious food ready to eat when you are home ? Or even better , pack fresh food for out-of-town gigs .
Second , our planet needs us . It ’ s not news that being a musician can have serious impacts on the environment . See Music Declares Emergency . We try to balance the scales as much as we possibly can .
Next , it ’ s about connecting to something bigger than us . As an Indigenous woman , I have always had a strong connection to the land . In our society , many of us have lost a connection with our food . Being able to grow something from a tiny seed , nurture it , learn about the soil and the sun , and then eat the fruit of your labour is one of the most powerful things you can do . This has connected me even more to the land . Naturally , you question everything and change your perspective on mono cropping , on food supplies , and the necessity of water . It truly shapes how you live . It is a magical and transformational experience .
Growing food is art and artists are constantly creating . Gardening is rewarding in unexpected ways . All elements of art coming into play : colours , placement , textures , flavours , plant varieties , complementary companions , planting , and soil structure . Much like learning about musical gear , gardening is a deep tunnel of evolving knowledge . A garden is like a studio , but for plants .
Musicians thrive on instant results when it comes to performing on stage , feeding off audiences ’ reactions . There is learning in that . Gardening provides the absolute opposite . It teaches us patience and planning rather than riding on impulse . But there is still a rush , just not immediately .
Growing food provides a creative outlet outside of work . It ’ s an escape to find balance and tranquility in an industry that is grinding and hard . Although it is sometimes hard to tear myself away from my work without feeling guilty , the plants beckon me and allow me to organize my time , and provide me with a physical outlet that nourishes my body and soul .
I can ’ t lie , I have taken quite a few business calls while knee-deep in compost ! However , I realize the power of finding something that takes you outside of yourself , away from your work mind , and connecting you to the land . This is so rewarding . It also fuels my creativity . Oh , if only I could grow chocolate , coffee , and cheese !
Here are some quick tips to starting your food growing journey : 1 . Start small , like just few pots with a tomato , some herbs , and some flowers on a balcony or a sunny spot .
2 . Find someone who can water your plants while you are away .
3 . There are always free or cheap ways to start a garden ; 4 . Grow food you actually want to eat ! 5 . Learn about proper seed saving for the following season or for trading ( even barter for merch !).
6 . Get nerdy about it by watching gardening videos and learn ways to improve .
My top-10 easy crops to grow for beginner
musician gardeners :
1 .
Lettuce and arugula
2 .
3 .
4 .
French beans
5 .
6 .
7 .
8 .
Pumpkin and squash
9 .
10 .
A great resource for starting your gardening journey is Huw Richards ’ YouTube channel . His videos are beautiful and very informative . I also love purchasing seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company ( www . rareseeds . com ).
Mimi O ’ Bonsawin is an Abenaki & Franco-Ontarian singer-songwriter from Sudbury . Her sixth studio album , Willow , is out in March 2023 . Mimi has received nominations at the Indigenous Music Awards , toured across the country , composed the theme song for Radio Canada ’ s Le Matin Du Nord , and performed on Télé-Québec ’ s Belle & Bum . www . mimi . ca .