Every year about 40 million households in the United States start a vegetable garden.
For most of us, it is an act of faith. In the spring we work diligently because the perfect garden is still possible. The newly tilled soil is smooth and weed free, the zucchini plants are still small and innocent looking and the weather is mild.
We know this is a mirage, that within a few weeks, weeds will be crowding the carrots, unimaginable pests will be devouring our crops and biting our exposed skin, and the weather will have turned fickle. Yet, despite our often less-than-spectacular results, we return, year after year. Why is that?
I think it is because gardening brings out the best in us.
Gardening makes us optimists. We believe that tomorrow can be better than today and next year’s harvest will be bountiful.
Gardening helps us to be patient. To tend our crops well, we must slow down, observe all of the interactions that are happening in our tended plot, encouraging some and quashing others.
Gardening gives a rhythm to our summers; planting, watering, weeding, harvesting.
Garden harvests allow us to be generous, to share our hard earned bounty with friends and strangers.
Gardening gives us hope. To pass on a love of gardening is to seed our communities with hope for a better tomorrow.
Barbara Murphy believes that gardening creates better communities.