Three years ago, my husband and I started our first vegetable garden together, and it was a big deal for us. We had decided we wanted to eat more local and organic food, and with two growing boys, we soon realized that this endeavor was not exactly cheap.

The local and organic food was worth it, of course, but if we could grow on our food, then we would have the best of all worlds: We would be growing healthy food for our family, learning how to become more self sufficient, and saving money. As I have made the decision to work a lot less, the latter becomes increasingly more important. But I digress.

If you have never grown your own food, then I think you must try it, even on a small scale. I had never tasted food moments after it had been picked. There are no words for how good the food tastes. No words! If you’re already a gardener, then you know, but I didn’t.

garden picture
This was our garden from last year. We had a good year and saved a lot of money last fall during harvest season.

I grew up in a small town but had never gardened with my family. My idea of food as a child and young adult involved Hamburger Helper and cake mixes, but as an adult, I was changing all that. I wanted our family to eat really fresh food. Still, I felt nervous starting our garden. My husband had grown up with a vegetable garden and chickens, but I had no experience.

I remember my great grandfather had an amazing vegetable garden, but, apparently, when I went out to “help,” I did more talking than helping, and he would usually send me in the house pretty quickly to “help” my Grannie. That was the extent of my gardening experience.

So I was a novice. I mean really.

I watched the videos, read the books, and really couldn’t imagine what I was in for. I just remember planting the carrot seeds in the row my husband had tilled with the shovel (yes, he does it old school) and thinking, “This is never going to work.” Carrot seeds are tiny. I could not even begin to imagine that those tiny things would grow into food. Even when the tiny greens sprouted, I was still skeptical about the whole “This is going to turn into food” thing.

bowl of strawberries
This bowl of strawberries was an important symbol of success in gardening for me. I grew up loving strawberries but without a lot of access to fresh fruits. With the strawberry beds my husband built, we had so many strawberries that we had enough to share!

But, by the end of the first season, we had food, and it felt like a miracle, not just a miracle that we had done it but a miracle of nature. I was changed as a person, and I felt humbled. Of course, while you are gardening for the first time, I highly recommend reading Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire. It will add to the spiritual experience of the whole thing, I think. I will write more about this experience in another blog, but I can tell you that our first garden really did help change me as a person.

By the time we made it to our third season of gardening, we actually noticed a big difference in our grocery bill, and with the whole deliciousness and healthiness perks as well, I was hooked. Despite the weeds and the bugs (and I am here to tell you Maine has A LOT of bugs), I was hooked.

This year, we’ll be planting our fourth garden, and we plan to expand it in a big way. I look forward to sharing our process in the coming months. I’m pretty sure it’s going to feel like a miracle to me all over again.

2 thoughts on “On Growing Food

  1. I love this Crystal! Gardening is one of my passions, too! Have you read Novella Carpenter’s ‘Farm City’ yet? I insist that you read it, if not. You’ll love her stories about her chickens 🙂


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