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September 29, 2014

A Sunflower for My Friend. {An ode to Gardening}

ZambonGarden

It was grey, raining, a little bit cold the day I saw the flower man in the train station.

He was selling sunflowers, two pounds each. He clumsily wrapped one up for me with careful consideration, like a child who has just learned to cut with scissors and puts a lot of committed effort into something that ends up looking like it got caught under the mower.

“It’s my wife’s business,” he said. “Just helping her out today.”

We both remarked on the weather and how beautiful the sunflowers were and I went on my way. I remember thinking that the flower stand was like a garden in the train station. Like a small consolation for a place that was otherwise crowded, dirty and uninspiring.

Imagine if everyone had a garden. It could be tiny, the kind where fairies might live amongst the leaves, sliding down the flower petals and keeping the bees company. It may be a hanging garden outside your kitchen window, offering a daily harvest of fresh strawberries. Or, perhaps it would be a huge vegetable garden, with seasonal delights bursting forth from the soil.

Imagine if all the uninspiring land/cityscapes could be transformed so that everyone could grow their favorite fruits and vegetables and experience the joy of sharing these with others.

Is it too much to say that, if this were the case, the world would be a better place?

I learned the value of a garden when I was growing up. Mum and Dad always had the best garden, with paths leading to little secret places, where you could hide and play and imagine you were the heroine in a great adventure. Now, Mum grows flowers and native trees and rows of carrots and crispy bok choy. Once, my Dad grew a single cherry tomato plant that became a tree. We all ate cherry tomatoes like kings for months.

My journey through life has led me to study nutrition, and although I now spend a lot of time reading textbooks propounding the intricacies of cellular processes and the human digestive system, I will never forget these gifts from the garden. I realized a little while ago that good health was more than just putting quality fuel into my body to make it run better. Not only is eating right important, but growing, cooking and sharing food with others contributes just as much to an overall state of sustainable health.

So, I decided to grow a garden too. The first attempt was beginner’s luck. My garden yielded fresh broccoli, salad greens and herbs. I grew borage and nasturtiums for the bees and made compost to feed the tiny microbes in the soil. I walked outside first thing every morning just to look at my garden. Sometimes I sat and talked to the plants, hoping I was out of ear-shot of the neighbors, and I thought grateful thoughts when I picked things to eat.

I was sad when I had to leave that garden, but I have a new one now. And I hope that everywhere I go I will make a garden, because growing food has connected me with life in new ways.

So, now it’s time to help others to grow a garden. So that we can all produce something that contributes to our health and well-being. And so we can experience the simple pleasure of putting some fresh basil in our salads and giving a sunflower to our friends.

 

 

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Editorial Assistant: Kathryn Muyskens/Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s own, Wikimedia Commons

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Emily Zambon