The Garden as Community Gathering Place
1: promoting health or well-being of mind or spirit
2: promoting health of body
3: sound in body &mind
4: having the simple health
We have a large vegetable garden in our backyard that Lori and I started several years ago to give our kids some of the same, rich experiences I had growing up. When I was a kid, my mom, who grew up on a farm, tended a sprawling backyard garden that took over ourentire yard. The garden came right up to the sliding glass door of our suburban Illinois home, leaving no room for swing sets and lawn furniture. From working in and eating from garden and eating from it, I learned all about sustainability without realizing it for years later.
Although I love the produce we get from our garden, what I enjoy more is the way it attracts our next-door neighbors, our back-door neighbors, our across-street neighbors and our across-town neighbors.
Everyone likes to gather in the garden; our family, our kids’ buddies, neighbors, dear friends, and new acquaintances. Some people help with the garden, others prepare food picked from it, and still others provide entertainment. Everyone has a good time and there’s room for everyone and what they bring to the table.
Eating on and from the land harks back to earlier times. It’s a reinvention of the old-fashioned block parties and village picnics that used to characterize America’s small towns and close-knit communities when every household boasted a famous pie or chicken-with-dumplings recipe.
These communities were self-sustaining, with farmers supplying the food and the townspeople the commerce. I am not suggesting we go back to those times (if we ever could!), but I am suggesting we all seek more community. When you feed your neighbors, you make a connection that is irreplaceable.
When we begin slowly but surely to rearrange our lives in a manner that allows us to cook and share this way, we find we worry less about over processed foods and hidden health hazards in our conventional food system. We find that we can rest easy, knowing our children are eating, sharing, and loving nutritious, wholesome food every day. What on planet Earth can be better than that?