Humble. Wholesome. Traditional. Powerful. Life-Altering. Vegetables?!!
Sometimes (or I would argue, often) the simplest things in life hold the most significance and importance. The course of our lives can be completely altered by these things that no one tends to notice or pay much attention to. For me, that thing was vegetables.
I still remember hanging out in my mother’s vegetable garden growing up, sitting on huge pumpkins with my dolls, getting my feet dirty, not really aware of what else was going on there – besides my mom digging around. I also recall my grandma’s large vegetable garden, and being curious about what she was doing in it.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was being deeply impacted by these experiences, this exposure to a simple, healthy way of living and relating to food. Growing our own food. It wasn’t until years later, when I was an independent adult living in the city that I began to long for this connection to the dirt, to the earth, again.
We only really appreciate things that we have – within us, as part of our lives and our selves – once we can no longer take them for granted.
So, I began volunteering at a children’s garden club in Hamilton – realizing alongside the children the importance of knowing how food grows. I also worked at a community garden plot, growing some of my own veggies in the summer, which was the most beautiful, empowering thing I’ve ever experienced.
The funny thing is, that as a child, teenager, for longer than I care to admit…I was really very averse to vegetables for the most part. I enjoyed bread and cheese most of all – still do, my Scottish roots run deep! With maybe a bit of simple vegetables alongside them, but nothing leafy, very colourful, or fibre-rich. I tended to stick to my carbs and some potatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, mushrooms here and there.
I would force myself to eat salads only because I knew that “they’re good for me.”
Along the way, I began piecing together what all this digging in the dirt really means, as I slowly started connecting this simplest of practices to the most essential parts of living. Energy, nourishment, sustenance, food is our strongest connection to the Earth that sustains us.
The way we choose to eat, and the way our food is grown – our relationship with food, is basically the story of our relationship with life itself. What we believe shows up on our plates, and therefore in our bodies, minds, and in our life.
For me, taking a direct part in this process has become sacred, and has shown me so much about what’s truly meaningful in life. I thank all of those gardeners and farmers in my life, who have instilled in me these values, so much for this.
Two summers ago, I decided to live and work on an organic vegetable farm in Copetown, Ontario, to learn the intricacies of what it means to truly live off the land and lead a simpler life in this hectic/crazy/busy day and age. I longed to get away from the bustle and back to my roots, so this is what I did. I learned more during this time, from people and the Earth than I have during any other time in my life, and am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
Now, I’ve decided to re-establish my family’s vegetable garden tradition on the farm I grew up on, and feed other families in the process. I’ve named our garden Grandma’s Garden, to honour the traditions of all of our homesteading grandmothers. Who raised their own animals, milked their own cows, grew and preserved their own vegetables – you know how they lived – because they’re your grandmothers, too.
I hope you’ll remember your roots, and share in the joy and liberation to be found in eating vegetables that have been tended lovingly, and grown in your own local soil. Maybe even grow some of your own this summer season! It may just change your life, as it has mine.
***If you’re in the Stratford or Hamilton areas and are interested in receiving a bountiful bag of Grandma’s Garden organically-grown veggies each week this summer, send me an email -firstname.lastname@example.org- we can arrange this!***
Top photo by Lucid Musings, others by Gratitude Food