continued from previous
The happy, compliant vegetables were either sold wholesale or packaged into salads for the happy, compliant citizens of the city who could afford them. Marketed as organic, locally grown nutrient-rich superfoods, the vertical farm’s salads ensured that people could still eat vegetables.
John looked down at the square from his flat as he was finishing his salad. It was a sunny morning, and the mystery gardener had appeared at the flattened botanical gardens. John could not tell if it was a man or a woman. All he saw from above was a large straw hat with an arm extending out, pulling on a watering hose. The patch seemed to have been expanded, and John even noticed a possible hint of green by the climbing stalks that had been there for days.
The rest of the square had remained pretty much unchanged – probably to the gardener’s benefit, who didn’t want to draw any attention to himself from looters or delinquents that may want to trample on his plants just for fun. The square had become a symbol of human civilization: Largely destroyed, with a tiny, barely noticeable cradle of life trying to jump start things using all that was available: sun, soil and water.
But the late summer heat was too much even for the gardener to be safely outside. He, or she, probably knew that they were taking a massive gamble both with their own life and that of their plants. Their experiment was not so much about producing food for themselves. They just wanted to see if Earth could still produce. They wanted to know if plants, and specifically which ones, could resist the heat stress. The gardener wanted to know whether they were living in the same planet as before. Whether this planet, where humans were sustained through indoor-grown salads and artificial foods, was in fact still habitable.
The sun was now covering most of the square. John put down his empty plastic salad container as he watched the gardener pull a tarp covering over part of the garden, then walk away.
from the upcoming novel A New Earth
to read from the beginning, go here
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books