Growing up my family always raised a garden every spring. We would grow all our vegetables and sell the excess for extra money around the farm. It was not a financial decision, but was simply just the way of life. A few hundred miles away, my beautiful you wife, was also growing up with dirt in her veins. Her father raised an impressive garden and was known the county over for his fresh produce. Being a coal miner, this as well, was not about money, it was just something that he did, tirelessly, year after year.
As I became older my involvement with the workings on the farm diminished. I often would apologize to my father, telling him how I wish I could do more and help out. My father never pushed on me to get involved. He would talk about the garden, or about this issue or that. Talk about a new technique, or type of seed. But never ask or told me to work in the garden. After moving off to college, and later years as a young professional living in the city, the seeds planted by my father so many years ago, finally sprouted.
I am not sure when or why I decided that I needed to start growing food. I make enough money and have a sufficient variety of produce around my local area. I began talking to my wife and she was almost immediately on board. The strange reaction I received, was from my father. It was not the overly joyful support I expected from the old man, but instead, a somber, “Well thats good son.”
We have 6 containers that we take care of outside our apartment. We are in the suburbs of a medium sized city, and have no yard to speak of. One of the first things we planted was spinach. Its had it challenges, from other people messing with the plants to having to move them for the mowers, ect. But it all finally paid off yesterday. Harvest day for spinach.
We pulled the container in inside and began to cut the mature leaves. It was very exciting finally getting to take something that you have put so much into. We decided to divide up the very small harvest and make two simple side salads to go with yesterdays lunch. As we sat down to eat, we finally had our first bite of food we produced.
I wish I could describe in the english language what it felt like eating that first bite. Knowing that we had came together, made a decision, planted, watered, weeded, and cared for out own salad. We had produce life from a seed, and now are eating that life for energy. I compared it to your first kill in hunting. It almost as you can see you bullet hit the target, and its the best tasting thing you have ever put in your mouth. However, this seemed more complete, as we had not found this food, but actually grew it.
After finishing our lunch I called my father at work and told him about the morning. He simply asked, “Did you eat it yet?” After I told him about the salads, the old man shuffled around and laughed under his breath. I asked him what was funny as he said, “Been raising a farm for forty years now, but it only took me twenty five to raise a farmer.”
As we talked on, the joyful support that I had expected had finally surfaced. He told me that it was not about planting seeds or hands in the dirt, but about using your harvest, and providing for you and your family that is the true medicine. He went on to say that he could not sell enough vegetables to pay for anything on that farm, but that wasn’t the point. When he sat down at the dinner table with us as kids, and watched us eat the vegetables he grew, and it turn, grow ourselves, that was his payment. It took me twenty fives years to finally understand this country bred tradition, but after my first taste or my own food I can promise one thing. Whether its 6 containers or 600 acres, year and year from this point forward, I’ll be growing a garden, and maybe one day in the future, laugh at my twenty five year old farmer when he sees it too.