When you live in an area with this kind of heat, there are few joys in being outside during the summer months. But then the cooler months arrive, and what becomes bitter cold to many is, in the words of Goldilock’s Baby Bear, just right…for the gardener, that is.
Someone posed a question as to whether gardening is worth it, or i.e., is there real savings in growing your own. I have had a significant amount of time to think about our stepped-up undertaking of the last two years. (You can see how we began in the garden here). Stepping up our gardening game has cost us hundreds, or maybe even over a thousand, dollars in materials— soil and soil amendments, containers, and fertilizers. As I plug and plow away, I ponder the question about what gardening is worth to me, and I have come up with some specific reasons to continue to toil:
I connect to God. I cannot think of a better reason to garden than to pull away from life and its cares and connect with the Father. I feel the breeze, even when it’s hot, and enjoy the smell of tomato plants, and marvel at the rapid growth of beans, peas, and okra. I pray. I listen. I am restored, and ready to take on the challenges of life.
I eat locally-grown, organic food. I write that statement laughingly as I learn more about the value of locally-grown foods, even over and above organics. What could be more locally grown than your own backyard? Growing your own requires a new level of understanding as to how the food system, and food distribution, work. It requires respecting seasonality, and learning to eat–and not eat–what grows when it grows. It also demands a certain amount of humility as the squash vine borer and the tomato hornworm might lose wars, but win a number of battles.
I exercise. Several months ago, I wrote a blog post outlining why I thought every homeschooling mom needed a wellness strategy. I was fairly candid about the fact that I am a hit-and-miss kinda lady when it comes to regular exercise. Though my efforts to maintain my health are primarily through changing my eating habits, I have seen success. Moreover, slooooowwwwwly shedding pounds means that knees and backs bend easier and stretching and lifting comes without subsequent pain medications. Glory to God.
I build my family. As women, we have a divine gift of influence. We see this as early as Eve’s bite of the apple. Scripture never shows us that Eve was present when the Lord gave instructions fit the Garden of Eden; Adam was alone. Yet, Eve was able to completely derail the word of the Lord over his life. We know and see the rest of the story.
My point here is that we use our gift of influence daily. Our homes run as we run them. The world would describe this as “when Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, ” but I believe it is larger than that. Healthy living is one of the ways that I influence my family and build my house (Proverbs 14:1). And with all the mounting data on the psychological benefits of putting my hands in the dirt, as well as the problems of foods labeled “organic,” growing my own is one way to put muscle to my mouth and the associated lip service.
There are so many other reasons I have become passionate about gardening. When I volunteer at the urban farm in town, I contribute to the cause of social justice, making local, organic food available to people who might not be otherwise able to afford it. When I eat from our garden, I know what is in our food, including the minimal amount of chemicals. And I can be a blessing to those around me, sharing quality veggies and herbs, and even sharing seeds as I inspire others to get dirty, too. If someone asked me is there real savings in growing your own, I would have to say no–if you look solely at the financial comparison of a globally-stocked produce section versus our numerous limitations. But when I consider the many wonderful and intangible joys of gardening, my answer to the question of worth would be a resounding yes. Now is the time for planning and considering if you do not live in a region with warmer winter weathers. Think about it, and happy planting.