3 min read

It goes like this.

At the desk, 9:11 a.m.

I spent an hour or so planting summer vegetables in the garden this morning. I planted some heirloom tomatoes as well as a beefsteak or two. I moved some volunteer mystery tomatoes which grew in the cracks of the sandstone pathway into a garden bed. I planted an eggplant and a bunch of eggplant seed. I started planting squash - yellow and zucchini. (I'll add a few squash to my Monday lettuce and kale planting.) And you can guess the rest - cucumbers, watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, Okra, basil (seed), and topped it off with a new lavender plant to fill the end.

We're able to plant a lot because we take care of the soil. We double dig the beds every year in the style of French Intensive gardening. We amend the soil with compost we create from our kitchen scraps, garden and grass clippings, leaves and coffee (to heat up the compost and add nitrogen) from Hooked on Colfax, our local coffee house. With the help of Rex the sprinkler God, we designed a watering system that allows for this intensive digging.

It sounds like a ton of work, but honestly, it's a lot less work than going to the grocery store, standing in line, dealing with unhappy employees, driving to and from the store (because we live in a food desert), and putting groceries away. Every morning from May through most of October, I can go out clip what I need from the garden and cook it.

Basically, the vegetable garden is a year round process. What we take out in a bounty of vegetables and fruit, we put back in the form of compost and shovel work. In some ways, it's a completely contained system. (It would be 100% but gray water is illegal on Denver. At some point, we'll get the gray water thing going.)

We don't need pesticides because we have healthy plants. We don't need petroleum based fertilizers (such as Miracle Grow) because we have healthy soil. The beneficial insects such as lady bugs thrive in our yard. Plus, we keep bees. We have such a bounty of food that we often give it away to neighbors and food banks.

It goes like this: What we put in, comes out. What comes out, goes back in to the system.

We run our businesses the same way. What we make from the system (the fruit), we put back into it. We choose not to add Miracle Grow (i.e, investor funding) to our businesses. Instead, we invest our time and efforts into creating a healthy foundation to support long term growth. To the team that runs Cook Street Publishing, this holistic style of business operation is the only way to work.

If you were to ask me what's wrong with our world today, I'd say it's the stock market. Why? Because in a holistic system, profits are available to go right back into the business. The moment a business joins the stock market, their singular focus becomes generating profits to be siphoned off by shareholders. Sure, in the beginning, the businesses strive to continue in their mission. But overtime, they become slaves to the stock market itself.

You can't take all the bounty out of a business and assume it's going to be sustainable. It just doesn't work. It's not sustainable. At some point, there must be an infusion of cash - cash from the government, cash through being bought out, cash from investors or Chapter 11. Like Miracle Grow, it doesn't matter much where the cash comes from because it's going into a non-sustainable system. The cash will eventually be siphoned off by shareholders and the whole mess starts all over again.

Take publishing for example. The large publishing houses are required to only publish books that will generate enough money to keep their shareholders happy. If they don't generate enough money, their stock is devalued and slowly but surely, their business will fall apart. Large publishing houses may squawk and whine about eBooks or digital rights management destroying publishing, but truth be told they are slave to their shareholders. They don't have the capital to support new authors and interesting work because all of their capital is siphoned off by their shareholders.

I'm not saying anything new here.

I'm simply saying that in this time of economic renewal, isn't it time to create sustainability? Isn't it time to stay as far away as possible from the stock market?