Since this event on August 10, I had a little baby boy on the new moon and we had another Super Harvest Moon! But, despite the lapsed time between the event and this post, Diego’s ideas are worth sharing.
On the August 2014 Supermoon we invited Sydney’s Weedy One, Diego Bonetto, to come and speak at a Garden of Bad Flowers open day about the so-called worst flowers of them all: weeds. What Diego’s work with weeds reveals is that weeds are not innately bad, rather they have come to be defined as bad in relation to other plants that we deem to be better, more useful, tastier or prettier. A weed is a cultural category. They are plants that exist where we do not think they should be. Ironically, however, weeds grow where they grow because of us. They are the plants that emerge when humans disturb the soil. They represent the movement of humans around the planet. Moreover, often times the plants we deem weeds here are valued differently and have been valued differently for many centuries elsewhere. Just as the plants in the Garden of Bad Flowers are only bad insofar as they belonged to a particular cultural tradition, weeds are only weeds insofar as they are defined as such by a particular community at a particular place in the world at a particular point in history.
There are many reasons Diego advocates viewing weeds differently. Beyond getting us to think about weeds as connected to human activity, there are deeper ecological ramifications to our contempt for the weed. One of the more unfortunate side-effects of our cultural marginalisation of weeds is the endemic use of posions to try to control or get rid of them. The poisons not only fail to ever fully control or eradicate the unwanted plants, and have to be repeatedly used, the chemicals used end up poisioning the soil, the adjacent waterways and any animals who might try and use the plants as a food source. To experience Diego’s amazing knowledge of weeds first hand anyone can go on one of his foraging tours. His website is diegobonetto.com and has links to his prolific social media presence as well.
Below are some pics from the day taken by me, Jennifer Hamilton, and Sophie Golding.