In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
January, 2009
Regional Report

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I resolve to always have a vegetable garden filled with mustard and peas!

New Year's Resolution

At this time of year we're reminded everywhere that it's time to think about resolutions and ways we can make a fresh start in our lives. Naturally, my mind turns to the garden.

Gardening Memories
A woman I met socially last year came over to visit during the height of the gardening season and casually asked to see the vegetable garden. As we walked through it, she began talking about how her parents gardened when she was a child. She stood there, bringing up memory after sweet memory of the entire family working together in their vegetable patch, and then continuing the camaraderie in the kitchen as they cooked the fruits of their labor together as a family.

She loves to cook and was bemoaning the lack of variety and flavor in grocery store produce and fruits. As I loaded her up with eggplants, chilies, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and basil, she asked if I would help her plan a garden. When I asked her why she didn't have a garden, she said it never occurred to her that she could. It was something her parents did and she honestly hadn't given any thought to growing her own produce. I was so excited about her decision that I sent her home loaded down with catalogs in addition to the produce.

Happily, one of the best outcomes of this accident is that we have become friends in an entirely different light than before. We have a connection that goes beyond the usual social connection. Gardeners do that.

The Intrinsic Value of Gardening
Gardening is a wonderful way to ground ourselves, to slow down and pull out of the fast-paced world we live in. So much of the world is focused on instant impact, instant gratification, that to have to wait for something to grow and ripen is a nice way to change focus. It's especially appropriate for children to see a different method of producing a result than swiping a debit card or clicking a mouse.

Sure, the work is hard, but how good it feels to come in muddy and sunburned with a basket of sweet red peppers and Brandywine tomatoes that you grew yourself. This is my New Year's resolution: to always garden, no matter what life brings. To always have my feet grounded in the dirt, my hands muddy from my toil, and, okay, my head in the clouds. Happy New Year!


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