At long, long last, it was seed planting day! This is our fourth year growing our garden from seeds that we start inside, and it’s still as exciting as the first. There is something quietly satisfying about tending a garden. If I had to pare down my life to meaningful moments or experiences, our family garden would be among them.
To Tom and me, part of living well is sharing the experience of learning to grow our own food with our boys and soon, Isla. It’s something that holds meaning to us, and the effects on our family reach far past the act of gardening itself.
Watching my boys race to pick ripe sugar snap peas off the vines to eat raw, or how they trail after me, sniffing and tasting everything, makes me feel satisfied in a way that is hard to describe. In the modern life that we live, the simple act of feeding my family can be a removed and clinical process. We go to the store, rushed and intent on checking off items on the grocery list. My mind is focused on getting foods to prepare meals before another busy week begins. We buy neatly packaged or bagged foods in lovely displays that are sometimes already washed and cut, and sometimes even completely prepared for us. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate these conveniences just like the next busy mom, but it can feel sterile. There is very little appreciation for the foods we pick and the farmers who make our bountiful foods possible.
But when we walk around our little garden on warm summer mornings, the boys and I take our time. Their restless little boy limbs are still for a moment while I sow in them time and stories like we sow water and fertilizer in our plants. We stop and kneel down in the dirt to look at how much our tomatoes have grown overnight. We cheer them on, congratulating the sturdy stalks, and we talk about ways to make them grow even stronger and more plentiful. Each herb is picked and rubbed between our fingers to smell. We taste them, wrinkling our noses at chives, and I pretend to look away while the boys giggle and stuff more sweet basil in their mouths. While we cut back the bushy zucchini leaves, they listen as I share my grandma’s favorite summer zucchini and tomato salad, how crispy she could fry her eggplant Parmesan, and how tall the peppermint leaves were that grew on her patio before we head inside with our basket of food.
At night when Tom is home, he brings the kids back outside. I watch them out the window as I make dinner with the foods we collected earlier. They stand around the garden, arms crossed with deep frowns of concentration, unconsciously mimicking their daddy, while they devise structures to make the beans stand tall or concoctions to keep the pests out. He teaches them how much to water and when to fertilize, entwining lessons in growing food with the satisfaction of hard work and the confidence that comes with learning something new.
Our garden connects us. It gives us a sense of community with every neighbor who stops by to trade gardening advice and with our family and friends whom we bring the bounty of our little plot of land as gifts of love and appreciation. For every moment of time and effort that we sow into our garden, are also moments that we sow into our family, and the reward of that is immeasurable.