Beginnings: How Will the Garden Grow?
Then GOD said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it. and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And GOD saw that it was good. –Genesis 1:11-12
I have a weakness–seed catalogs, especially those from Seeds of Change, The Cook’s Garden, and Heirloom Seeds. One of my secret guilty pleasures (o.k. not so secret now), is to curl up with a cup of hot tea or cocoa and look at the beautiful pictures of healthy plants while imagining the garden I would love to have in the spring.
In the interest of full disclosure and complete honesty, I offer this disclaimer: I am not a master gardener. I am not even a remotely competent gardener. I am trying to learn to be a gardener. I really, really want to be a gardener and grow my own food. The whole process appeals to my kinesthetic learning style.
I have had numerous kitchen gardens over the past 15 years. Most of them have amounted to nothing more than a few herbs and tomato plants. On a couple of occasions I’ve had some fairly decent success in spite of my ineptitude. Last year my spouse and I got a late start but still managed to have prolific basil, decent tomatoes, one pepper, and some small but tasty cucumbers. This year we WILL do better, and we are planning to expand the size of our garden. Hopefully, we will also find a small, used chest freezer, too.
GOD proclaimed the earth’s vegetation good, and ever since humans have been working the land to produce food. Unfortunately, in North America there was a decline in home gardening as we moved from a largely agrarian society to a manufacturing society that would become highly mobile. Thankfully, recent trends in mass food production of questionable origin and content, along with the economic downturn, are contributing to an upsurge in backyard and kitchen gardens.
There is something inherently satisfying in growing, preserving, preparing, and eating food that you have grown. My suspicion is that we can trace the beginning of this itch to get our fingers in the soil back to the beginning of creation. GOD proclaimed creation good, and we thrive when participate actively in GOD’s good creation.
So, while the fruit trees rest and the winter wind howls at the door I’ll be looking at seed catalogs (albeit this year online to save paper), sketching out plans for a bigger garden (hopefully, a series of raised beds) and a compost bin, and looking forward to spring’s thaw to celebrate the goodness of soil, seed, and–eventually–a bountiful harvest. Thanks be to GOD for the opportunity to play in the dirt!
For Further Reflection
Sit today with these two verses from Genesis (11-12) and think about the goodness of fresh fruits and vegetables. GOD proclaimed them good, and there is goodness in fresh produce, especially when we have a hand in growing and harvesting it. Give thanks for fruits, grains, and vegetables and for the people who grow them. Backyard gardeners and family farmers play an important role in our lives whether we realize it or ignore it. Include farmers in your prayers. If you plan to plant a garden this year (no matter how small!) pray that your planning and planting will be successful. Give thanks to GOD for seed, soil, sun, and rain.
If you are not able to plant a garden, consider supporting a local farmer or cooperative by joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). You’ll enjoy fresh seasonal food for a reasonable price and support an independent business person/farmer. It’s a win/win situation! Click here for more information and the location of a CSA program near you.
Enjoy reading? Check out Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about her family’s year of growing their own food on the family farm. You will also enjoy the website! You might also be interested in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules by Michael Pollan. You can access the author’s website by clicking here. Finally, check our Kristin Kimball’s delightful memoir The Dirty Life. Click here to visit her website and learn about Essex Farm and how a city girl fell in love with a farmer and ended up feeding a community. It’s good stuff!