By Caleb Summers
This last year has been one of reevaluation. We have reconsidered, willingly or not, many decisions about how we live our lives. We found new ways to connect with each other, new ways to work, new ways to dress and new ways to eat. We’ve also found new ways to fill our time. Some have watched the entire Netflix catalogue, some have become jigsaw puzzle masters, some have learned to bake and some have decided to garden.
Spring is finally upon us. We survived a winter during COVID-19, and finally signs of renewal and life’s tenacity to keep on living are all around us. Flowers can be found in unexpected places, pollen is starting to draw its intricate patterns on our parked cars and plant nurseries are open for business again. It’s time to garden.
As we have reconsidered so many relationships in the last year, now is an opportune time to reconsider our relationship to the natural world around us. All of our food comes from nature. No matter how much it may have been processed and repackaged to look like something else, everything we eat has origins in the natural world. We, indeed, are made of nature. In this moment of opportunity, during this time of reevaluation, let us take a little time to reconnect with our (pun fully intended) roots.
The act of growing plants, be they food or flower, gives us perspective. In a world of Amazon Prime delivery, streaming video and instant gratification, we get to witness the way that something fed and nurtured over time feeds and nurtures us — nutritionally, medicinally, emotionally, spiritually and many other ways. We get to slow down and appreciate just how long a single leaf of lettuce takes to grow, how much energy and effort a sunflower saves up to explode into one brilliant bloom and just how sweet a homegrown tomato tastes when it ripens all the way on the vine.
Gardening is good for us, statistically. Studies show that gardeners have decreased risk of dementia, get more vitamin D, have better moods, are in better physical shape and are less lonely than non-gardeners.
We are lucky enough to live in a place where we can grow food and other plants without a great deal of experience or knowledge. We don’t have to be farmers or master gardeners to grow our own kale, tomatoes or beautiful flowers. Some plants can be put right into the soil with little effort or preparation and reward us with bountiful harvests.
Use your COVID-honed computer clicking skills to research what you can grow at home. Better yet, visit your local plant nursery (we have some great ones here in the islands) and ask about what you’d like to grow and how. Even better, get involved in some local or regional groups to learn and connect with others.
Sow some hope and curiosity and see what you reap. You may find your harvest to be profoundly more bountiful than a bouquet or a salad.
Caleb Summers, MBA, is a long-time gardener, deep thinker and lover of nature. He is a master composter and has decades of experience with agriculture, horticulture, soil health, permaculture, mushroom hunting and sustainable business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.