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Reflections on the Layers of a Forest Garden

By Carrie Flemming

In her experiential workshop, Mirror Image of Nature: Movement and Metaphor, Rev Dele guided us through practices to ground and connect while sharing the threads shaping her work. Rev Dele is a grandmother, spiritual leader, speaker, and permaculturist whose mission is “grounding heaven on earth by strengthening our oneness with Nature.” She is CEO of Soil & Souls and co-founder of the Indigenous Mothers Community Land Trust.   

Rev Dele shared her understanding of justice as inner balance and returning to nature as our guide. She spoke of Sojourner Truth’s connection to nature and the natural world as nourishment and sustenance in social justice work.

We sang a song to remind us we are woven into the natural world – we are a part of nature – we are nature. This brought me into my body and the present moment, allowing me to clearly feel what was moving through me.

Rev Dele spoke about the Seven Layers of the Forest Garden working together to nourish and support one another. The tall and low tree layers. Vines and shrubs. The herbaceous layer and ground cover. And the roots below. 

Each layer with something unique and valuable to offer the whole.

We took time in groups to imagine the layers of the forest garden as different generations of people in our lives and reflect on our relationships.

Each generation with something unique and valuable to offer the whole.

How can I take more time to play with the young kiddos in my life?

What is inspiring and worrying the young adults I know?

Am I learning from elders in my local community?

What is needed, and how does one prepare to grow into elderhood?

These are the questions emerging for me since the workshop. I am grateful to Rev Dele for creating a space that generated such potent explorations. I imagine there will be more. 

As I spend time tending to the plants, trees, and soil around me this spring and summer, I look forward to seeing where these questions and their answers lead. 


Carrie Flemming is a holistic practitioner, community worker, and creative guide whose professional experience spans twenty years supporting communities focused on reproductive justice, mental health, and personal transformation. She has a healing arts private practice called Cultivating Aliveness and is a crisis counselor for New York Project Hope in Dutchess County. Carrie lives with her partner in Poughkeepsie, NY.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Good Work Institute or any other agency, organization, employer or company. And since we are critically-thinking human beings, these views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time. Please do not hold anyone accountable to them in perpetuity.

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