Monday, July 13, 2015

Garden Planting 2015

Sunday afternoon we were finally able to get the garden prepped and planted. We have had a lot of rain this spring, and days of sunshine have not worked out well in our schedule so far this year for getting our little truck patch set up and ready to go. Better late than never, and the way we see it, this just means that we will be able to share in a late harvest with family and friends! Plus, the rain has been great for other friends and farmers. Without regular rain, the crops just won't grow.

There is so much meaning in this little square patch of ground. Every year while I was growing up, Dad and Mom would work one or two plots of ground planting a wide variety of vegetables. Through the summer and fall, we would have plenty of food to eat, and my folks would send me around to neighbors with buckets of fresh vegetables to share. Mom would be hard at work in the kitchen canning beans, making sauerkraut, and pickles (among other yummy foods).

Back around the time Mom was in the last rounds of her fight with cancer (which she eventually lost and is now in the presence of her King), I plowed up a little spot in the yard here in Morgantown. I was coming to a realization around that time that my generation was quickly losing its relationship with the land, and we were not maintaining some of the traditional skills that we had witnessed our parents and grandparents participate in regularly. Things like growing food, repairing homes, sewing, cooking, and maintaining home and land seemed to me to be becoming less and less practiced.

So, since 2007 I have planted a garden each year with one exception. Jamie and I gave the land a sabbath after seven years as a reminder that God is our ultimate provider, and just like you and I need rest, the land needs rest as well. Each year, I plant some tomatoes and some peppers and potentially some other yummies, but I always make sure I plant the Three Sisters. Planting the Three Sisters helps me to keep connected to foods my family has always grown, but in a larger scope it is a reminder and a connection to our cultural heritage as Shawnee people.

My ancestors would take time as they planted (planting marked the new year), and they would seek to forgive others and make amends where needed. In fact, it was forbidden to carry a grudge or some form of unforgiveness into the new year. Each year, at the time of planting, everyone would start on a clean slate. I think our world would be a little brighter if more folks today practiced a similar tradition. As I worked the ground and dropped corn, beans, and squash into rows, I also took a little moment to give thanks for the provision of the Creator of the universe who sustains all things. I asked God to bless the crops in the hopes that they would provide me, Jamie, and many of our friends and family meals, sustenance, and that the harvest would be plentiful, and allow us to extend these gifts to others as well.

While our garden is not quite big enough to provide for all of our needs, I believe that it keeps us sharpening skills that farmers the world over employ to make sure their families are fed. It becomes for us not only provision, but also an opportunity to stand in solidarity with our neighbors around the planet who are farmers. And here in the US, it keeps us rooted and connected to the land. Honestly, as we spend time in our little garden, the act itself refreshes our spirits. Personally I feel more alive as I am working this little plot, and the food that comes from this garden tastes WAY BETTER than what folks buy in stores--it's always been that way too.  There's something about having a little dirt under our fingernails as we work the land that is healing and magical.

Not only that, but every day we spend working this little patch, it's a small but poignant reminder that food comes from the good earth and from the provision of the creation. Real food doesn't come from a lab. It doesn't come from a box. It doesn't come in plastic and cardboard packages. It comes from the earth. As we tend and care for the earth, it takes care of us as well. Sometimes I think we forget that truth, and we become users instead of caretakers. We become users of both earth and people, and that leaves our relationships with both fragmented and broken.

Even if you can't plant a little spot on your land, maybe look around for a community supported agriculture (CSA) initiative or a farmers market. Doing so might be a small step of solidarity with farmers, and a good reminder of where our food comes from. It also helps the local economy as well! Here in Morgantown we are part of Mountain Harvest Farms CSA, and we supplement our food needs from time to time with a quick stop to the Morgantown Farmers Market or by making meat and egg purchases from Working H Farms.

May we all be blessed in this Shawnee new year with a greater spirit of forgiveness as well as a stronger relationship with the land that provides so much to us.

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