I never thought I wanted to garden, not even a little. It was time consuming, dirty, and required a lot of effort for what I saw as very little reward. My parents were never gardeners, perhaps that is where I got my ideals from. We all watched, for years as my Grandmother, rain or shine, would tend tirelessly to her gardens. Her work showed, the neighbours used her gardens for prom and engagement photos. My own sister even got married there. We ate her produce all summer, and her preserves all winter. We were all jealous of what she could accomplish with a little bit of dirt, a few seeds, and a whole lot of time.
Working in the culinary industry for the past few years I have developed an even deeper appreciation for gardeners and farmers. They are the people who make me able to do what I love. They bring me beautiful produce to turn into delicious food for the eager customers. I don’t know a single Chef or cook who doesn’t run excitedly to the door when they see the produce delivery. It’s like Christmas for us! They feed our creative integrity, we oh and aw over the possibilities they have brought us in their wicker baskets!
All of these people, gardeners, farmers, grandmothers, families, anyone who grows food or creates beautiful flower gardens all seem to get immense satisfaction out of it. So this year, with the purchase of our new home, I decided to see what all the fuss is about! My wonderful husband has built me two beautiful raised vegetable patches and I have planted my own garden.
I started some from seeds, and bought some as seedlings. I am now a few months into my project and I have to say I am getting incredible satisfaction out of the ability to grow my own food. We take these little seeds, and baby them, feed them, protect them from the elements, and they give us sustenance. Beautiful, home grown, sustenance. It is amazing! And I am learning so much!
I have even, with much prompting and a whole lot of help from my mother in-law, taken an interest in the many flower gardens on our property. Shaping, tending to, and planning for them. Making our yard feel like an oasis instead of a big, empty, green bathroom for the dog.
I have a developed a big appreciation for my grandmother through this process. She is well into her eighties and is still tending to her own gardens. I am twenty-seven, and I get sore and tired from gardening. It is hard work and required a lot of patients. I can’t imagine how she feels coming in from the garden everyday. Thought, I suppose, the gardening is probably what kept her so spry for so long. I really wish I had of taken more of a chance to learn from her when I was still living in Nova Scotia. I was young, and stubborn, and “had better things to do” I suppose. I’m a little disappointed in my younger self, I wish she had of seen the value of all of those years of knowledge at her disposal.
I have been watching “Orange is the New Black” recently and in the fourth season the character Red (I just love her, by the way) reads the following poem to her girls, and I find it very truthful and comforting to me:
“The garden is one of the two great metaphors for humanity.
The garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things.
The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe.
It’s part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food.
It’s a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses.
It’s about winning; about providing society with superior things; and about proving that you have taste, and good values, and you work hard.
And what a wonderful relief, every so often, to know who the enemy is.
Because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time.
And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth, and growth, and beauty, and danger, and triumph.
And then everything dies anyway, right?
But you just keep doing it.”