Growth: Lessons in Gardening in Tough Environments from the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Narrated by: Chirag Patel
Length: 2 hrs
Categories: Self Development, How-To
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A broad ranging how-to guide through permaculture gardening and community development, featuring: 

  • Articles about gardening in rough environments 
  • Anecdotes about using the garden in school 

"If ever a mortal heard the word of God, it would be in a garden at the close of day.” I first read that quote in Civ.

Over the years, I’ve learned more and more about the natural world. In many ways, it was a natural outgrowth of both my philosophical approach and my inclination for teaching. It's a matter of a development orientation, which comes down to watching, experimenting, and learning. 

Gardening, as presented here, is more than just growing things; it’s teaching and learning in the most practical and natural possible way. It’s called natural science for a reason.

Collected herein are a series of gardening columns (written for the local newspaper), tips on companion planting and permaculture, and short stories of our in-school gardening projects that’ll give you a rounded idea of how to operate your garden as a space for growing, whether that’s veggies and wildlife or confidence and education.

©2018 Chirag Patel (P)2018 Chirag Patel

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    3 out of 5 stars

less about change, and more about gardening tips

only the last section of this book concentrates on the idea of gardening for change (specifically through helping struggling students find pride and self in the garden), and i dearly wish the author had focused more on that throughout, particularly as that was what the title had lead me to believe i'd be reading. however, the bulk of this short audiobook focuses on gardening tips, some of which are very specific to the region where they were originally published. as such, it is an interesting look at patel's gardening column, but not necessarily actionable for the everyday gardener.

authors-as-narrators can be quite hit or mess, but patel does a decent job of narrating their own book book. for whatever reason though (i suspect something to do with recording equipment), the fricatives (/s/, /th/, etc) are twice as loud as the rest of the sounds in the recording, which was somewhat distracting at first, although it either improved or i grew used to it as the book went on.

there's also one deeply out of place segment where patel discusses eating healthfully to avoid disease (sure, fine), wherein they advocate that avoiding carbs can prevent cancer - which is simply not true.

overall a alright listen, especially as i was gifted the audiobook in exchange for an honest review, but i'm not sure it's something i'd seek out again!

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Everything Good Comes From a Garden

Growth was a great educational, informative listen. Everything in this audiobook was spot on. It improves health, especially in the elderly. Physical as well as mental. Children of all ages can learn a lot from gardening. I learned things I didn't know about water and soil and insects. I've had a difficult time growing the things I want in my climate and I think this will help.

I love Chirag Patel's books and even listening to him although at first I had to listen closely. He has a nice voice and I like when an author is able to read his own work. Well done!

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review

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Wonderful

I was gifted this audiobook with the understanding that I would leave an honest review.
I enjoyed listening to this book very much. It is a series of gardening columns for a local newspaper. My only problem was the local area was not mine :-( I listened to this book as I was gardening in my own yard and learned a lot. This book is more than just telling you how to garden or what to plant. The book has some short stories about teaching kids in schools to garden and how that not only helped the kids but the community they lived in too. One of the short stories tells of a man who took upon himself to clean up an area that was just the local dumping place. This reminded me of what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his wonderful book Tipping Point. That is when you clean up an area people treat it better.
This audiobook is read by the author and that is always a big plus for me. I am so glad I was gifted this book.

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Profile Image for Kate @MLHearingThings
  • Kate @MLHearingThings
  • 02-03-19

An informative how-to guide to gardening

Growth is an audiobook which extolls the virtues of gardening to both individuals and organisations. Through a series of tips, tricks, and anecdotal reports, Chirag Patel leads the listener on a mindful, philosophical, and cultural tour of the practical benefits that can only be found by engaging with nature. Using his experience working with school groups, the author encourages us all to consider the ways we can promote growth; within ourselves, our communities, and our gardens.

One of my favourite lessons from this audiobook comes from the first chapter. When discussing ways to brighten an outdoor space with painted murals, Patel says, "Most importantly, remember: it's not forever. If it's a horrendous mess, you can always paint over it. Even if it is a mess, it's your mess, that you made to brighten everyone's day. People will respond to that."

Modern living is so driven by perfection, with everyone seeking lives that are 'Instagrammable', and this contributes to the depression and dissatisfaction so many of us feel when our projects or experiences fail to live up to this photoshopped and filtered standard. Gardening is, in many ways, the perfect antidote. It's messy and unpredictable, things grow out of control in unexpected directions, die off despite loving care, or stubbornly refuse to bloom until the week you happen to be away on holiday and can't see them. Plants force us to delight in small victories, resplendent in their imperfections, and to enjoy the process as much as the end result. No garden is ever 'finished', as each season or meteorological phenomenon brings with it a raft of horticultural duties. The passing of time becomes more mindful when you are connected to nature, and gardening - be it in an allotment or a window box - is one of the most accessible ways for people to plug back in to the natural world.

There are lots of great suggestions for improving soil condition, planting schedules, organic living, health, and sustainability. A few of the planting tips from the author's former newspaper column are location-specific (to the Eastern Cape), but can be adapted with a little common sense regarding the seasonal variations in your area. (Although the suggestion to "help clean up the streets by collecting donkey manure" may not have an easy 'swap' in most towns or cities in the UK!)

Narrated by the author, Chirag Patel, his enthusiasm for rewilding urban spaces and using gardening to aid in wellbeing was evident, and his passion was infectious. The positivity with which he approaches the subject felt full of the hopefulness and potential that I always feel from a park or garden.

I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who wants to begin growing things or creating a garden, but is struggling to find the motivation to get started. It would also be useful for anyone who hopes to integrate gardening into school or community groups. The author's expertise and enthusiasm provide a simple, accessible, guide to using gardening to improve your well-being, so there's something here for anyone with an interest in the topic.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.