My Grammy had a green thumb.
[Victory Garden circa 1943.]
She grew up in the garden, really. As did my Grampa – he was the son of a dairyman and a professional cook – both of whom believed in having a large garden out the kitchen door.
I love the old pictures of Grammy as a little girl, playing in the garden. So much of life revolved around the garden of their Booneville, Arkansas home. They lived in town – in a house that my great-grandfather built (he lost his right arm in a cotton gin when he was 11 years old – but it didn’t stop him from doing pretty much anything!) – that had a small barn, a chicken coop, and lots and lots of garden. There were fruit vines and trees, vegetables galore, and lots of “sustainable” living going on in that city lot!
[Tom Thumb wedding circa 1919.]
My Mom spoke of her love of the time spent in her Grandmother’s garden when she was a girl. For her, the love she felt related to her time spent with her Grandmother had very close ties to the amazing food grown, prepared, served, and enjoyed as a family in their lovely Southern California garden.
[My Great-Grandmother and my Mommy circa 1947.]
Growing up we always had a garden in the back yard. Mom and Dad always grew tomatoes, squash, corn, beans, peas, lettuce. Mom always had a patch of strawberries going and there were the plum trees that put out all kinds of crazy quantity of succulent Italian prunes. (Little did we know we loved prunes!)
If something important happened when we were growing up – we’d snap a picture in the garden!
[Grammy holding baby sister, my brother Joel, and I circa 1968.]
In the summers – nothing better than sharing a meal out-of-doors – featuring the very foods we’d grown just feet from our table.
When John and I married it was a no-brainer that no matter where we lived a garden would be involved. Better yet – a garden that could yield enough produce that we could preserve for future use! (I married a man with amazing skills. He’s the one who taught me how to can!)
Some of the sweetest memories I have are of my Grammy out in the garden with my own children – showing them just how it’s done!
[Grammy – age 82, and Jessica – age 2, watering circa 1994.]
When we came across this house that we live in – listed for rent – on HALF AN ACRE just a stone’s throw from downtown Portland, well – our pulses quickened a bit. Could we afford it? Could we even possibly be in line early enough to be in the running to luck out to rent it? We nearly fainted when we got the word that we could indeed afford it (barely), and that we were the first in line with a completed rental application and application fee attached.
A house with a garden. A REAL garden – the kind you can live off of. Just what we’d longed for.
What a gift!
What a blessing!
What an amazing God!
Yes. There is great responsibility. But oh – the benefits far outweigh any sense of burden.
But here’s the thing…
It scares me a bit how little people of my own generation, much less those of my children, understand where food comes from. It scares me significantly more that if you stood on a street corner and surveyed the folks walking by – asking if they could grow a garden given the resources – that the vast majority would look at you with a blank stare.
There are so many deep philosophies at play here – this beautiful thing called urban homesteading represents.
…the list could get very, very long.
For me – bottom line – it goes back to WHO I am accountable to in my life. I believe with every fiber of my being that there is a God and He is Creator and that He has gifted us with this very precious resource. I consider it nothing short of Worship to be able to steward this little corner of the world. We consider it our privilege and honor to take the yield from His blessings and our labors, preserve them, and to gift excesses to those in need in our community.
NOTHING about any of this is new.
It is the way it was done in my Mother’s day.
It is the way it was done in my Grandmother’s day.
It is the way it was done in my Great-Grandmother’s day.
…and for generations prior.
My fervent hope is that my children, my children’s children, and for generations to come – it will continue to be an important part of life. That they will never take for granted the beauty of this thing.
If you’re an urban homesteader, consider joining us in celebrating this beautiful thing we do – and make a stand for the unrestrained right to proudly declare so. There is a Facebook group to check out here. Other excellent posts to read here and here.