“Plants become weeds when they obstruct our plans, or our tidy maps of the world.”

That’s the first sentence of a wonderful book I’ve been reading called Weeds by Richard Mabey. In the early establishment of a cocoa orchard, before the trees mature enough to interleave their canopies and shade out competitors, there is a simply tremendous amount of weeding to be done. Although it’s trailing off a bit in the more mature area of the farm, I have spent a shocking amount of time pulling out grasses and other weeds over the past couple of years, all the while cursing their very existence, and probably wishing that they would simply disappear.

Still–every single one of those plants is actually delivering infomation. Information about soil health, water flow patterns, wind, sun exposure, you name it. And if I can take a step back from hating them so much, the observation of these plants in the wrong place (to paraphrase Emerson’s definition of a weed) can deliver a wealth of data about the farm that are otherwise mostly less than obvious.

So, chalk another one up for nature. She has a way of educating, even if we sometimes don’t want to listen.

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