Friday, May 12, 2006

Gardening for Fun and Food

I grew up on a small homestead in Florida. We cleared the land ourselves, sometimes with the use of a tractor but more often than not by hand. We had the standard farm animals for the first few years until they became to expensive to feed and care for. No matter how desperate the times became we always had a large garden, the wild fruits and berries, and chickens and ducks.

I suspect that I was really no different than most children. I lived as happily as I could under the circumstances. When my parents finally divorced I adapted and continued living but wished that I could be away from the city my Mother had moved us to. Even as a teenager I wanted to be on a mountain top in a cabin but fate took a left turn and my dreams of owning a farm were placed on the back burner of my mind. That was until I met PeterC.

PeterC and I share a similar desire to live on a farm with animals and gardens. While Sparrow Haven isn't a farm, or anywhere near one, it affords us some of the pleasures of rural life. Since we moved here we have been able to plant a garden that has grown from 100 square feet at ground level to over 160 square feet of raised garden beds, containers, and berry patches.

Some years ago I came to realize that not only did I miss working the land and growing at least some of my own food, but that we as a society are quickly reaching the point where it is becoming a necessity. We plant to connect to the Earth, the Mother of us all. But, we also plant for independence and self sufficiency.

Each year we plant our garden with an eye to preserving what we don't eat fresh. We are re-learning how to use a canner. We own a small dehydrator and dry several types of fruits and vegetables. Once the shelves are all stocked we will share our harvest with coworkers and friends. There is a great deal of pride in the knowledge that from our small garden we have produced enough to feed our family and obtain some small independence.

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