On sale today, Paul Lee’s new memoir/biography,¬†There is a Garden in the Mind¬†has been hailed by¬†Publishers Weekly¬†as ” part philosophy, part personal meditation, and part tribute to a man who was a transformational figure in the organic movement that began from small seeds in California and has now reached a global community.‚ÄĚ We sat down to talk with Lee about his work with his former UC Santa Cruz colleague, English gardener Alan Chadwick, that helped spark California’s organic movement and continues to inspire new methods and movements for sustainable farming and gardening today.
There Is a Garden in the Mind¬†presents an engaging look at the work and life of pioneering organic gardener Alan Chadwick and his profound influence on the organic farming movement. In this wide-ranging and philosophical memoir, author Paul Lee recounts his first serendipitous meeting with Chadwick in Santa Cruz, California, in 1967, and their subsequent founding of the Chadwick Garden at UC Santa Cruz, the first organic and biointensive garden at a U.S. university.
Today, there are few who would dispute the ecological and health benefits of organically produced food, and the student garden project founded by Chadwick and Lee has evolved into a world-renowned research center that helps third-world farmers obtain high yields using organic gardening. But when Chadwick and Lee first broke ground in the 1960s, the term “organic” belonged to the university’s chemists, and the Chadwick Garden spurred a heated battle against the whole system of industrial existence. Lee’s memoir contextualizes this struggle by examining the centuries-old history of the conflict between industrial science and organic nature, the roots of the modern environmental movement and the slow food movement, and the origin of the term “organic.” His account of Chadwick’s work fills in a gap in the history of the sustainable agriculture movement and proposes that Chadwick’s groundwork continues to bear fruit in today’s burgeoning urban garden, locavore, and self-sufficiency movements.