OK... just playing devil's advocate here, but I personally think that no one should have to "justify" a lifestyle of "pottering* around the garden and playing in the kitchen." at least not in a moral or ethical sense.
This has prompted a great deal of thought on my part, and I've already attempted and deleted one post on the subject (I rambled on and didn't get anywhere). After sleeping on it, I think I've worked out what I meant by that comment, and why I was wrong.
Although at the time I wrote it I did indeed mean it in a moral sense, I don't think that's actually where the pressure (in me) is coming from. It matters to me a lot that the garden produces food, but why?
My last job was quite a high-status position, as was the one before that. People asked my opinion and listened to what I said, and whatever I may think about the system in which that status mattered, that was how it was. What I do for a living has always been a big part of my identity – my own image of who I am – so having status inevitably ended up being part of my self-image, too.
I was very happy to give that up in exchange for a better life, but when I take a long, hard look at myself, I realise that my sense of self-worth may have taken a bit of a battering. In place of that status, I feel the need to have something to show for what I've done. I've put a lot of work into the garden, and I want it to give me something back so I can say,
Look what I've done! Look at all these veg - I did that!
Now, I'm well aware of the things that can go wrong in a garden, and allowing my sense of self-worth to depend on the vagaries of weather, slugs, caterpillars and tomato blight is obviously not a good idea. More to the point, focusing on outcomes is generally not a good way to engage with life. Learning from EcoCatLady's recent, inspirational blog post, if we spend all our time focusing on what we've done, we miss out on the experience of doing it in the first place (read her post - she says it better). By getting too hung up on what the garden produces, I'm in danger of forgetting that the point of this new life is that I get to spend my time doing gardening.
I need to learn to value the doing, and give less weight to what I can acheive.
... I'm trying to compose a suitable conclusion here, but struggling. I think this is because this issue is something I need to give a lot more thought to. Maybe I'll come back to it when I have something more to say.
* I looked it up and yes,
putteringis American for
pottering, or vice versa if you must ;-)