I want you to see what I see. My garden is a harvest of wonder grown directly from the soil. I see red ripening tomatoes, the purple crowns of turnip tops, and a burst of yellow from a summer squash. Slacking onion stalks and viney beans, all started from the tiny seeds I put into the ground months ago.
This being my first garden season, I began as any new gardener does: tentatively. I relied on the garden staff and the plan they had for a successful season but I don’t know how much trust I really had in what they were telling me when I dropped my first seeds into the soil and watched them blend in and disappear without a trace. I couldn’t help wondering if anything would ever come. They told me that the seeds should be watered immediately, gently to be sure. To me I might as well have just been watering the soil. Could these little things really produce something?
Before this gardening season, I thought that I was aware food starts from the soil. But as “food” is seen on the grocery shelf processed beyond recognition, packaged and name branded, I never realized how little I know about where it came from. Even fruits and vegetables come out of grocery bins, disconnected from the source. Somewhere in my head I knew that food starts from the soil but I never gave it much though. It never occurred to me that our food is a product of the earth and our labor. The only way I could come to appreciate that fact was to prepare the soil, plant the seed, water, weed and then wait, hoping for the best.
The garden staff and mentors saw that there was fertile ground in me to grow a new gardener, so I kept coming back. I liked the feel of the soil running through my fingers, the smell of good earth and I had the vision of those tiny seeds developing into colorful produce. I picked off insect pests and almost every day, I found myself encouraging my young plants to grow. “C’mon you’re looking good.” See those people who talk to plants aren’t really that weird. Good Heavens I’ve become one of them!
Among the sights and sounds of the garden that seems like sunshine itself is that of children enjoying its benefits. Everything good about gardening is good for kids. Having a hard time getting kids to eat veggies? I know by observation that they will eat what they grow and harvest. I can’t get over how them as children and me as an adult are sharing together in the wonder of this gardening experience for the first time.
Then, in season comes the harvest. Those tiny seeds I wondered about? The ones that just disappeared into the soil? That I despaired about and that gave me hope? Eventually they did become radishes, turnips, and beans. From seeds to small plants to ones that produce onions, tomatoes, squash and melons.
In that is a harvest feeling. Even as I harvest a variety of produce, I harvest also a feeling of victory and accomplishment. Just as I have encouraged my plants to work the wonder of growth, they have given me a chance to grow as well. I have that harvest feeling.
Jack Frye, 2012 Community Gardener