Ishtar’s International Network of Feral Gardens

April 2024 - October 2024

An ancient Mesopotamian tale tells us about how fertility goddess Ishtar’s passing into the underworld rendered the earth fruitless. Hearing the pleas of barren lands, the gods agreed to split Ishtar’s time between the underworld and overworld, giving us distinct seasons. Her devotees would say, “No one comes back from the underworld unmarked.” As winter ends, Ishtar rises to the surface of the earth each spring ever more powerful. 

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, SAVAC has been running a playful and experimental land-based initiative called Ishtar’s International Network of Feral Gardens. Exploring tensions between the wild (feral) and the domestic (garden), we encourage participants from around the world to conjure up atypical spaces to grow flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants. The namesake of the Network, the goddess of fertility Ishtar (also known as: Lady of the Date Clusters, Inanna, Aphrodite, or Venus) compels us to think about how feral gardens are wrapped up in reproductive justice, climate care, and psychic resilience.

In what feels like catastrophic times, we delve deeper into the wisdom of Ishtar’s story to lend perspective amid overwhelming grief. This year, Ishtar’s ascents and descents from the overworld to the underworld resonate in deeper time, from seasons to epochs. We are in the midst of genocide, encroaching fascism, ongoing pandemic, and the warmest winter in recorded history. Drawing on practices of collective mourning, we ground ourselves in our connections to other human, animal, and plant life to find hope for the future.  

How will this work? 

This planting season we will be hosting a series of online and in-person events. Anyone can join these events, from anywhere in the world and all the events will be free! You don’t need a garden to participate. There will be variety of ways to engage throughout the coming months. We will be sending details about upcoming events through all our channels, including our website, instagram and newsletter!

Upcoming Events 

Saturday, April 20, 11:00-12:30pm EST
Free and open to all. Register for the zoom link.
Accessibility: Closed captions and transcript

As spring beckons new growth and cherry trees unfurl their pink skirts, we invite you to the launch of the 2024 Ishtar’s International Network of Feral Gardens. This is an opportunity for new and returning participants to get to know each other. We will discuss various approaches to starting the growing season, relying on everyone’s knowledge and creativity to figure out how we might adapt and respond to drastic changes in growing conditions and worsening climate health.

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401 Richmond St. W.
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1 (416) 542-1661

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