My heart feels very full when I touch the veggies and herbs that I grow and care for every day. Establishing a connection between myself and the food that nourishes my body is indescribable. It provides a sense of empowerment, because growing your own food means you will eat exactly what you want. Your food will be a reflection of your principles. In a world with Monsanto and pesticides, that empowerment is a blessing.
My garden is 100 percent organic. Most of my plants come from organic seed or starts from organic farmers. I use worm castings and organic compost, with some sandy Florida soil mixed in. I started with a small bed that became so prolific, I had to expand. Now outside my window there is hardly a piece of ground that is not covered with food.
I look through my window in the morning and look at the divine bounty, with the sun shining over it, and there are few things that can spoil my day afterward. Gardening is not only about growing plants, but also about exchanging energy with our planet. It is about love; it’s about being human; it’s about knowing where your food comes from, and that your body is healthier for it. It is knowing that you are feeding your friends and family the best food available, food that is grown in balance with the planet, food that not only nourishes the body, but also the soul.
Samantha Medeiros works at Florida Organic Growers.
As told to Grow Gainesville, ”I’ve always gardened. I’m from a small town in Georgia called Riceboro. My grandpa had always gardened. It grew up in me. So when I moved to Gainesville 18 years ago, I fell in love with it. And that was when I had the first argument with my husband. I wanted to dig up the lawn and plant a garden. (Laughter.) Now he loves the garden just as much as I do.”
My grandfather had a big field of vegetables: corn, butter beans, okra, collard greens, sweet potatoes, white potatoes; we planted everything. Most of what we ate came from the garden. My grandfather always told me,’Child, always plant something around your place that you can eat.’ And that just kind of grew in me.
I go for a walk every morning, and then I come back and work in my garden. And I love it. It relaxes me, and I get great pleasure seeing things grow from a seed into something I can harvest and share with my friends.”
I’m Kelli Brew and I live in the “Green House” of the Gainesville Catholic Worker with my family and others. Since we have a shady backyard and a postage stamp-size front yard, we are gardening on city-owned property around our house. We use the food for our family and for guests who come to our house for meals. Right now we are using the last of the lettuce and broccoli and are planting out warm weather things. This corn is headed for the traffic calmer down the street. I have had a garden wherever I’ve lived over the past 25 years. It’s challenging coming up with space in the city, but we’ve been able to produce quite a bit between the little street gardens, pots on our doorstep and window boxes. My favorite thing to grow? Corn in strange places, lovely roselle and blueberries instead of landscape bushes, wandering Seminole pumpkins, sweet sungold cherry tomatoes,zesty herbs, and bee-loved flowers. I keep a record of what we’re growing and how we’re cooking it on a blog: ourlocallife.com.
My parents had a garden when I was growing up, although admittedly I didn’t help out much. I remember them both proudly posing for photos next to 6-foot tomato plants (I lived in Canada, where you can grow giant tomatoes), and our dog running around the yard with old corn husks.
I’ve always loved nature and plants, so when I finally had my own little piece of ground to play with in Gainesville I gave it a shot, just throwing stuff in the ground and learning by trial and error and lots of reading (which I still do!). Six years later, my garden has grown from a small experimental square to taking up a significant portion of both my front and back yard.
I don’t think I could be happy without a garden to tend; it keeps me fit, gets me outdoors, stimulates learning, hides my white Canadian skin under a tan, keeps me in tune with the rhythms of the Earth, and in the end I am rewarded with nourishing food.