• Voices for Agrarian Life

Gardening: Deeply Rooted Tradition by Carol Joyce

Getting my hands (and feet) deep in the soil has been a tradition deeply rooted in my life. As a young girl, my family grew apples, strawberries, thorny raspberries, grapes and figs as well as a hearty variety of vegetables in our family garden. While the purpose for our earthly habit most likely stemmed from the necessity to supplement the family budget, I’m fairly convinced that my parents’ desire was to teach us how to work the earth and have a life-long love for gardening, preserving and enjoying the fruits of our bounty.

Not all garden related ventures proved fruitful every time. Droughts, torrential rain, the occasional hail storm along with the critters that stalked our food producing plants brought much disappointment on occasion.

Success, on the other hand, yielded jellies, pickles, preserved vegetables, applesauce, frozen fruit and those awful tasting products like kale and turnips that usually were quietly snatched off my dinner plate and given to the dog under the table. Shhh!

One summer I recall entering a garden contest. Here was my chance to show what I had learned and share it with the world… at least my part of the world. My rows were perfect and the plants were spaced apart just right. I was diligent in watering, pruning, staking and picking produce from this prized garden on a regular basis. It was quite an adventure! One of the requirements was to take pictures at different stages of the growing process. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to surpass that productive garden. Fortunately, my efforts paid off because I won first place for my lovely garden and a picture of me and my garden appeared in the Frederick News Post. I was never so proud and it taught me perseverance and faithfulness.

Over the years, I’ve always tended a garden or grown foods harvested from our trees and vines. I have my parents to thank for instilling these life-long habits in my life. Yes, there’s nothing like eating that first tomato, pea, or grape right off the vine. Yum, yum.

As a member of The Keep and Till, I’m happy to be able to share my love and knowledge of gardening with the youngest of our church family. I watch them get excited about soil testing, identifying helpful and harmful insects, seed planting, tending to our church's multiple gardens as well as harvesting crops that we share with those in our area that feed families in need. I laugh quietly and recall my own childhood experiences, knowing that these children will one day remember the memories we are making in the garden and pass them along to future generations as well.

Thank you everyone at K and T who stir up a love of gardening in our children! May your harvest be a bountiful blessing to those who receive it.

“Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. God made all kinds of trees grow from the ground; trees beautiful to look at and good to eat.” Genesis 2:8-9 The Message

Carol Joyce is an author and writing coach. She is an active part of The Keep and Till, serving in a number of capacities to further the kingdom and encourage others to honor God's creation.

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