“It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe
a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a row of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
My husband and I put our first pea seeds and tomato plants into the earth almost 20 years ago. We didn’t know anything about soil or last frost dates or planting zones. We knew to water well, but we were also college students and newly married and our plants were prone to shrivel with thirst one week, and turn yellow from too much water the next.
We persevered with our efforts though, and the plants grew.
By high summer, we were eating sun-warmed peas and tomatoes that we plucked from the backyard, and not from plastic bins at the grocery store. Something bloomed inside of me that summer of my first garden. Something about eating food that wouldn’t have grown without our actions or our care. It gave me a sense of power and also of peace.
We haven’t been without a garden since.
These days we grow our food on the 40-acre farm that my husband grew up on; one of the oldest homestead sites in the greater Brownsmead area on the northernmost point of Oregon. The first farmhouse was built here in 1895 and on the hill above our current house are the graves of those first pioneers. Since those early days the farm has been many things, including a chicken farm and an artist’s haven, but it sat sadly fallow for the last 30 years. Now that we’ve moved back we have added an orchard, herb garden, livestock, and our organic vegetable garden. We grow garlic, onions, brassicas, potatoes, corn, beans, peas, squash, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, flowers and herbs — enough of the staples to last us all year!
That said, it can be a lot of work, especially since we both have day jobs and two little girls to take care of as well. But our family’s ultimate goal, then and now, is to grow or raise the majority of the food we eat ourselves, and to have some semblance of food security in these strange times, and so it’s always been work we welcome and look forward to.
We’ve grown a lot of different food in a lot of different places in the last 20 years. Our gardens have been big, and our gardens have been small. However, the thrill we feel when putting something as insignificant as a seed into the ground and then the benediction born of watching those sprouts and sprigs emerge and explode towards the sun is always the same. It is monumental and immeasurable at the same time.
It is never anything less than a miracle.