The Garden Evangelist

a review of Back to Eden, the documentary by Dana Richardson & Sarah Zentz

I used to think gardening was hard, until I discovered the methods of Paul Gauschi. I am sad to say my current living conditions leave me wanting a space to garden, but a few years ago, when I did have space, I used Paul's methods for several years, and often caught myself just sitting in the backyard, enjoying the view of my small success.

Back to Eden is a slow and beautiful film centered around Paul's beautiful garden and the people it attracts. It is simple, straightforward - with a decidedly religious bend – but I feel this only adds character to the film.

Does it bother me that Paul Gauschi quotes the Bible, or that this film has such an overt christian tone? It has taken me some years to come to terms with my own religious beliefs, and although I am not a christian, I am not interested in bashing them either. I like them as much as any other segment of the population, and if I should not be anti-semitic, islamophobic, racist, sexist, or in any other way a bigot, why should I bash christians? Is tolerance only for those I don't know?

If religion is nothing more than the stories we use to make sense of our lives, shouldn't we be open to more stories? Does it matter if I wear a cross or a crescent, a star with six points or only five so long as I am full of human kindness? My answers may not be popular, but the serve me, just as Paul's advice on keeping a garden gave me better tomatoes, squash, strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins, beans, potatoes, cucumbers, parsley, mint... and did it with less effort on my part.

In the end, I prefer to forgive idiosyncrasy. God knows, I have plenty of my own that begs forgiveness. So what if Paul quotes the Bible? He does so in a loving and generous way, sharing his wisdom freely. More importantly, his methods are tried and true; so some might argue that makes his garden more science than religion anyway. In that spirit, I say, "Carry on, good sir, and tell me a bit more about Romans if you wish."

Trionfo Violetto Bean Pole - in my backyard - 2013.

Trionfo Violetto Bean Pole - in my backyard - 2013.

Red Warty Thing Pumpkins.

Red Warty Thing Pumpkins.

Dill, Kale, Parsley, Mint, and Yarrow, with Potatoes and Pumpkins in the background.

Dill, Kale, Parsley, Mint, and Yarrow, with Potatoes and Pumpkins in the background.

Strawberry patch

Strawberry patch