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Robin Kimmerer food Marie Edwards

Reclaiming the Honourable Harvest

Review by Marie Edwards

Robin Kimmerer
Robin Kimmerer at TEDxSitka - view on YouTube

Robin Kimmerer is a writer and a natural poet when you hear the gentle, nurturing and nourishing inspiration woven with care into her words. She is a botanist, plant ecologist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. A profound, warm and passionate woman who has evidently invested huge amounts of time, consideration and effort in bringing together the wisdom of traditional indigenous ecological knowledge with a scientific understanding of our need to engage with a sustainable way of being. Yet, she speaks not only of living sustainably but of living in right relationship with the other “Peoples” of this world.

In this moving and momentous talk, Robin reminds us of the power, beauty, wonderful taste and 'gift' of the Berry. She acknowledges the Strawberry as the Leader of 'The Berry People'; “the Heart Berry”, as they are the first to share their fruits in the Summer. Kimmerer suggests that we can return to a truly ethical way of being which honours and celebrates the generosity of the plants and foods that Nature offers and asks how we may reciprocate this; showing our gratitude and response-ability as a species, ensuring that the other “Peoples” are able to thrive. She reminds us that “all flourishing is mutual”.

A particularly powerful question that she poses is how our world might be if, for example, a land developer had to ask the permission of the forest before converting it to pavement. Kimmerer highlights that our moral imagination has as much bearing on our future as any technology and perhaps it is time for us to pay attention to her song. She wonders how life may be if we were to begin to “take only that which is given to us”. Whilst this is a radical shift from our current dominant behaviour as a species, this way of being is potentially the only way that we can genuinely bring our planet back in to a position of true balance and harmony. We are invited to consider what we as Human beings have to share with all of life and are encouraged to give to the earth as the “Peoples” of the Earth give to us.

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