The Growers Prayer

A Poem by Shane Koyczan

In celebration of the Greenbelt’s 12th birthday, we are excited to share The Growers Prayer by renowned Canadian spoken word artist, poet, and author Shane Koyczan.

The poem is a celebration of Ontario’s bountiful farmland, the calm of its forests, the vitality of its water, and the joys of life in the Greenbelt. It’s also a call to action—the Greenbelt is stronger when we raise our voices to grow and protect it, helping to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. Take a moment to listen, reflect, and connect with Ontario's natural fortune.

Building from Shane’s words, we’re holding conversations about the importance of preserving the places we hold dear; about the local food that nourishes us; and about our favourite places to find inspiration in nature. Join us on social media using the participatory hashtags #ShareYourVoice and #ONGreenbelt.

There will also be a special listening party for The Growers Prayer as part of the Toronto Poetry Slam on March 26, 2017 at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. Click here to let us know you're coming!

The Growers Prayer
A poem by Shane Koyczan

We sometimes forget
We forget
where it all comes from
as the drum in our chest
busies itself about the next beat

while we wash
         and repeat our days
we forget 
about the kaleidoscope of different ways
that we are bound to the land

that we can grow nothing
from mixed sand and cement
that wildlife will not thrive upon pavement

while we busy ourselves with bills and rent
we forget about who grew
what we’re having for dinner
we sometimes forget
that as our sprawl grows wider
our sustainability is spread thinner

we sometimes forget
the greater our reach
the less our grip
the closer indifference
the further we slip
we sometimes forget to care where it all comes from
not just the ground
but the green thumb that put it there
we take for granted the air we breathe
and the water we drink
we think
it will always just be there
that there will always be spare land
to grow the things we need
that there will
without exception be enough food to feed us
and while we discuss what is
we lose sight of  what¹s next
we push the subtext of our story
off to the side
we do everything we can to hide
the fact that
we are responsible for what happens here

that how we act now
will determine whether the future has a habitat
or a souvenir

is where it all comes from
not just the food
but the mood it puts you in
while running
walking through it

not just the honey in your tea
but the frozen pond
upon which you learned to play hockey
it is a place of memory
a sanctuary of biodiversity

it is the root of the tree that sustains you
it is the chorus through which you will hear
other voices finding harmony
in the belief that this is a place worth saving
that we are engraving the initials of this place
into ourselves knowing that our passion
is what makes us community

we are devout to this cause
so when the strength it gives us
implores our blood
to bring forth the next beat of our drum
we will take a moment to remember
that this
is where it came from.

Shane Koyczan

Ontario's Greenbelt is the largest protected Greenbelt in the world, and a model for protecting agriculture and leaving a lasting environmental legacy for the future. It provides permanent protection for nearly 2 million acres of farmland, natural spaces and water.

Image credits for The Growers Prayer include photographers from the 2015 and 2016 Greenbelt Photo Contests: Angeline Vanderboom, Catherine Marshall, Christopher Manson, Ellen Cameron, Jamie Reaume, Jeff Dickie, Linda Steele, Mark Williams, Michael Manett, Stephanie Bracconier, Tracy Munson, Vartkes Peltekoglu, and Warren Martil.


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