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Fresh from the Garden

Updated: May 8, 2021

City people call areas of land where vegetables grow "a garden," but I grew up in rural South Alabama in what we called "a bean patch". The bean patch was a garden, a HUGE garden, where butterbeans, peas, okra, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, watermelon, cantaloupes, snap beans (or green beans), potatoes, turnip greens, collard greens, and so much more were grown.

My maternal grandfather was a cotton farmer and a builder. He was born in 1911 - the eighth of twelve children. His upbringing was focused on faith in the Good Lord and hard work farming the land. Watching my grandfather till up the land, sow the seeds, nurture the crop, and reap the harvest gave me a good understanding of trusting the Lord in all you do. There were good years and there were bad years. But there was always farming and the HUGE garden that would supply food for our entire family, friends, and anyone in need.

I loathed time in that bean patch as a child and teenager. I thought it was cruel to have to spend summer mornings and evenings picking whatever was ready for eating. I told you I was from South Alabama, and summers are hot as blue blazes. I break out in a sweat just thinking about days spent hunched over in the bean patch. And just as easily as the perspiration begins, I long for those very days where I learned much more than the importance of good soil and rain showers.

My Pa was quite possibly the most frugal man I've ever met. He rarely ever spent a dime on anything other than necessities and his offering to the Lord each Sunday. He would never even think of wasting any resources, which means we weren't allowed to use the electric bean and pea sheller at Mr. Joe Henry's house unless the crop was so plentiful that we couldn't possibly shell everything ourselves. Farm life taught me a lot about prayer at an early age because heaven knows that I'd selfishly pray for ALLLLLL the butter beans and peas just so we could use the electric sheller!

Fast forward to today - we do live in the city, but we ALWAYS have a garden. I don't have row after row of produce, but we do manage to plant our share of goodness. Birdie and I hauled in leafy green lettuces and clipped the punchy gerbera daisies out of her gardening spot. Sharing this with my girl makes my heart happy. I'd give anything if she could spend one day in the garden with my Pa, and I'm pretty sure his heart would burst if he could share all his knowledge with her.

I hope you'll find time to dig in the dirt - whether on a big plot of land in the country or a raised bed in the city.

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