Tag Archives: shovel manifesto

Marty’s Shovel Manifesto


I’m not sure when it was that I started to formulate my shovel manifesto. Was it the summer I was discharged from the U.S. Navy, pierced my ears, let my hair grow and spent every free minute rebuilding a 1967 VW Van? Or did the act of giving up the bright red VW the next summer, and becoming a bike commuter, ignite the first shovel epiphany?

1. The combustible engine – what an incalculable waste of money and energy. What percentage of our local government’s budget is dedicated to maintaining the automobile and its necessary infrastructure? We have an entire court system dedicated to traffic! How much of your personal budget goes to maintain your car? Cost benefit analysis in human life – traffic accidents have killed more people than war (than all the wars combined, in fact).

Back then I had no idea my anger at the automobile would turn into a love affair with the shovel. (Anger and love why are they always in such close proximity to each other?) A few years later, with life on a bike, I can’t imagine why someone would want to drive a car. It’s so wonderful out here in the wind, sunlight, guided by the moon, so real and alive! No longer am I angry.

2. Human power is healthier, more rewarding and pleasurable even while it’s hard work. It’s cheap and energy efficient. It’s life at a human pace, guided by human energy and it turns out (coincidentally or not) more humane. I’m happier on a bike, even in the rain. I smile more. I’d been hit by a car or two and I still loved my pedals, but even a freewheeling, self-propelled commuter is affected by human drama and finds himself blue. It was a girl and she had broken my heart. I rode to get over it. I pushed my body, forced my heart, lungs and muscles to pump me further then I had ever gone before and then pushed even harder, but it did no good and in the end I was still broken hearted.

3. Even the wheel is limited in its ability to help humans. Sometimes we have to stand on our feet. Sometimes we must kneel and other times it’s best to lie down. A shovel is useful in all these situations. It was a small patch of grass behind my apartment on 13th street where I discovered the magic of the shovel. Ever since, I’ve been articulating the shovel manifesto in empty lots and backyards. No longer am I broken hearted.

4. Digging in the dirt is good for the soul! To watch a plant grow, blossom and bear fruit is magical and warms the heart (even the most bitter and broken ones)! Last month I flipped a backhoe over and it landed on top of me. Luckily, I only suffered five fractured ribs. It was that day that I realized I can live without these gigantic hunks of metal and plastic. They are slowly killing us, some of us they kill instantly. I find life much more pleasant and safe without’m. Time to move on.

5. Don’t run a backhoe while writing a shovel manifesto.

Garden hoe,

Farmer Marty Camberlango
A farmer who considers growing an art and uses both heart and hands to do the dirty work. I mentored under the shovel farming masters at Upper Rogue Organic in Prospect, Oregon. I consider myself a decent gourmet cook. I have spent years studying and working with place-based foods. Most recently I spent a year in the kitchen, as the Chef’s assistant, at Leku Ona, a traditional Basque restaurant. I haven’t learned how to make a living from farming yet and earn my income as a personal gardener in yards close to town. Boise’s been my hometown for 17 years. I’ve lived in the Czech Republic and Korea and traveled throughout Europe, sharpening my farmer’s eye and growing soul.

City Gardens Market. On Wednesday from 4pm to 7pm, we host a garden market at our 19th St. Garden (NW corner of 19th and Idaho). You can also catch us at the Saturday Farmers Market in Downtown Boise. We garden a number of locations and are based in Old Town Garden City on Adams St., where we have a 1 acre plot that was once part of the original Chinese Gardens. We are driven by a hardy distaste for the combustible engine, the pleasure gained from using our bodies to do work, and the desire to reclaim urban land in the name of beauty, animal and plant habitat and delicious sustenance. Juxtaposed with the noise, fumes and concrete of smoke-belching urban life, City Gardens strives to be growth of a new kind – one of bird songs, dirt and the smell of fertility.

City Gardens
marty.citygardens@gmail.com or call 713-1675
3878 N. Adams St. Garden City, Idaho