If you’ve been keeping up with any of our social media accounts, you’ll know by now that April is KidsGarden Month. We’ve been asking folks to share stories about how gardening has changed their lives and so I thought I’d share a little bit about what gardening has meant to me.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I spent the six months after I graduated from college working on a farm in southern Vermont. My decision to pursue a farming apprenticeship was inspired by the two summers I’d spent working at a farm camp, a passion for intense physical activity, and a healthy dose of “I’m not sure what sort of career I want, but my limited experience with agriculture has been truly energizing so let’s give it a try!” I will honestly admit that an abiding love for vegetables and fantasies of tending a production garden all day did not factor prominently into the equation… in fact, I’d never been a huge fan of vegetables (I was a notoriously picky eater all through childhood and well into my teenage years) and had limited gardening experience.
This all changed during my six months on the farm. During my time there I spent a handful of hours each week managing a small growing space of my own, somewhat blindly stumbling my way through a growing season under the steady guidance of the farm manager. I weeded this tiny garden diligently, I planted seeds and transplanted starts, watered periodically, weeded some more, and made a ritual of harvesting produce at the end of my work day, selecting the ingredients for that evening’s dinner.
Slowly my diet began to change, until it came to consist almost entirely of products from the garden I tended and animals I took care of. For the first time in my life, I could say I actively enjoyed eating a wide variety of vegetables. Not only that, but I could say with certainty that gardening was something I inexplicably loved—the satisfying feeling of dirt under my fingernails and coating my hands, the joy of watching a sprout resolutely grow taller each day, the pride of knowing that I (with the assistance of the elements) was responsible for the food I was eating.
These six months of gardening revolutionized my relationship with food and inspired my burgeoning career. Gardening became a passion and key lens through which I began to view life. I found that growing food was a powerful and grounding force that connected me to the earth and to people in ways I hadn’t imaged.
Now that you know my story, feel free to share yours…