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Horticulture and Human Culture

By D. Paul Schafer, CES Musings, September-October 2013

Culturelink would like to draw your attention to an article published in the review CES Musings, September-October 2013, and written by the distinguished researcher D. Paul Schafer, Director of the World Culture Project and author of significant books on cultural development, such as Culture - Beacon of the Future, and Revolution or Renaissance: Making the Transition from an Economic Age to a Cultural Age, and of a series of contributions in Culturelink's publications.

The article Horticulture and Human Culture is a concise analysis of the similarities that exist between plants and people, horticulture and human culture, and especially of what can be learned from the growth and development of plants and gardens that is relevant to the growth and development of people and cultures.

No two people - like no two plants - are the same. Each has his or her own specific qualities and characteristics that make every individual distinctive and unique. Like gardens, cultures are designed and developed in many different ways. The author cites Herder and his Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind that "the world is very much like a garden with all sorts of plants - cultures - comprising it and providing variety and vitality in it". At this point Schafer states that in the past, attention was focused on uniformity rather than diversity, and he approaches cultural diversity as a source of creativity and innovation for development and as the principal challenge of our time: "This is imperative now that cultures are becoming increasingly diversified and pluralistic in character, with many different people, cultures, traditions, beliefs, and ways of life interacting under one roof".

As Schafer concludes, not only is there a great deal to be learned from horticulture that is relevant to human culture - particularly with respect to the nature and character of human life and how cultures should be organized and developed - but this could also provide a crucial link between human beings and the natural environment to help people and cultures come to grips with the environmental crisis and prevent ecological disaster. With more and more people getting involved in gardening, the prospects for forging a much closer association between human beings and nature - horticulture and human culture - are extremely favourable. For horticulture and human culture are not really all that different when you stop and think about it.

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