I’m Jennifer, the wife of Grateful Trees & Bee’s owner, Jake, and more often than not, I’ll be the writer of this here blog. Today I’m going to share with you my garden story. I’m guessing it’s a fairly common one for those of us born in the latter half of the 20th Century. It starts with the truth that we create the world through our stories. And one of the stories that’s informed our human world for some time now is the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In this story we have literally been banished from the garden. So it’s no wonder that most of us are still living out that tale.
For many of my years on this planet, growing up in central NJ, it was certainly true for me. Sure, my grandfather grew rhubarb and tomatoes, and my mom had a yearly crop of zinnias — but food? Well that came from the local grocery store of course!
This wasn’t true for Jake, who has been farming since he was a wee one. He grew up on a farm in Maine where Irish potatoes were the cash crop and his family also maintained a kitchen garden for all those other veggies a kitchen needs. So in 2005 when Jake said he’d build me a garden on our acre of the American dream, I said I’d give it a whirl. And I’ve been in love ever since.
Years of the hardest physical labor I’ve ever undertaken and the most delicious veggies I’ve ever eaten. As I daily engage with our garden, I marvel that I went along so readily with a cultural storyline that excluded me from this most magical of spaces.
For a garden is that place where humans and Nature come together to produce an amazing co-mingling of the wild and cultivated. It is the place where we can explore our symbiosis with the Community of Life. In the garden we remember that we are not on this planet alone. In the garden we remember our human value. And what God would refuse our participation in an enterprise for which we are most certainly needed? The human being: toolmaker, creator of the hoe, the plow, irrigation. Watcher of the stars, the moon, the seasons, weather patterns. Seed collector and cultivator of plant genetics.
So I enjoy thinking of my garden work as reclaiming Eden. Materializing Eden yearly in our back yard. For Eden isn’t a fixed location on a map, or a space lost to some far past transgression, but rather a place that emerges wherever humans agree to serve the green realm.
Okay, that’s all well and good. But it doesn’t answer the practical why. Why do we need to reclaim Eden? That’s simple: there’s food there.
Re-entering the Garden means I get to eat. Organic, wholesome, as local as it gets, fresh veggies for my family to eat. Been good for the old cholesterol numbers and the waistline too.
Further, in an America where consumerism reigns, something very cool begins to happen when I embrace the role of producer. I become a little bit freer and a little bit more like the independent-minded Americans who started this great country. Food is power and when I grow my own, I hold that power.
No matter what compels you to start scratching in the dirt, I say, follow that compulsion. It will bring you blisters, an aching back and great joy. Oh, and that food thing too. Really, I promise, not all food comes from the grocery store. And garden veggies? They taste better.
If a girl from suburban New Jersey can figure it out, so can you. Grateful Trees & Bees is here to help get you started.
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