The Garden short story by Iris Carden
The greenhouse has become my favourite place to spend my spare time.
Once Howard insisted that anyone involved in our little farming operation had to actually work on it, our group of Martian farmers was reduced to three: Howard, Sarah and me.
Howard’s taught Sarah and me a great deal about gardening. He’s taken on the role of leader or CEO of our little group. He does all negotiations with Mars Corp, and with suppliers on Earth or the Moon.
I’m doing the accounts. Right now it’s all in the red, we’ve put in our own money, and borrowed from Mars Corp. It’s expensive to set this all up. We even ended up needing to hire Mars Corp to build the greenhouse, it proved too much for the three of us.
As the only scientist in the group, Sarah is still working on the problem of growing food directly in regolith. This greenhouse has a solid floor, and we’ve imported potting mix to grow in. She’s looking forward to the next greenhouse and the one after that.
There have been times, I’ve wondered if this was all going to work, or if it would fail and we’d spend the rest of our lives paying off the debt. But now, the first vegetables are almost ready to harvest, and I’m far more hopeful.
We’ve all agreed that once we make back our money from this, we’re saving for the next greenhouse so we can expand. As Mars Corp keeps increasing the size of the colony, fresh food is always going to be in demand, and since we’ve started this project, Mars Corp has announced it’s not going to start farming here at all, but will leave it to private enterprise.
While we’re the first, once we start to make money others will want to copy our model. Eventually, we’re going to have competition. We want to be in the best possible place to compete when that time comes.
Some time in the future, we’ll make a profit. Until then, we’re going to use a lot of our own money and time getting our little farm business started.
Along the way, Howard and Sarah have become particularly close. I’m happy for them. I don’t think either of them thought they’d find love on Mars, but I didn’t think I’d become a gardener here, so I guess anything can happen.
My favourite place used to be the nowhere, out on the barren landscape, but now it’s the greenhouse, watching things actually grow where nothing could grow before.
After my day in the office, collecting data, writing reports and answering email, I come here to work in the garden with Howard and Sarah. When they go home, I stay a while before I go home to do our farming accounts.
I’ve brought a chair in here, so I can just sit and look out over the new life we’ve planted, through the windows to the landscape, and beyond to the moons, and those glowing dots in the distance, one of which is Earth.
This is where I come now to reflect and to write in this journal.
I know Mars Corp will tell the official history of Mars. That history will detail things like deciding we’d have a 24 hour day, so it feels more like Earth, and our hours would be 61.5 minutes, to account for the actual days here being longer. It will be a story of mining and ore and building. It will be about massive costs of transporting workers and ore and needed supplies. It will be the story of the executives and their decisions. Our little enterprise, being the first attempt at farming, may possibly get a single sentence in that story.
My journal will tell a different history. It will be a story where Howard from Planetary Administration, fell in love with Sarah the chemist from Mining. It will be the story of how I, Elizabeth Munroe, discovered I loved gardening, when I’d never even tried it on Earth. It will be a story of ordinary people and ordinary things. It’s not the history that will be taught in schools or referenced by people in power, but I think it’s a history worth recording.