To the uninitiated, or perhaps uninterested, gardeners can seem like fussy, badly dressed Earth Mothers and Earth Fathers who rummage around the yard. Well, at least that’s what I probably look like.
But in reality, we are all gardeners in a sense – even if we don’t actually go out and mess about in the dirt. We plant the seeds of relationships, hoping they grow deep roots. We prune our lives of accumulated “baggage” and those things that weigh us down. We even raise our offspring and hope they find a wonderful life on their own. We are always engaging in the act of gardening, each and every day.
For those of you who cook, bake, saute, braise, broil or roast, your connection with the garden shouldn’t be seen as something distant or odd that’s done only by people wearing big, floppy hats or Wellington boots. Our ingredients come from the Earth, and its nutrients create everything that we are. We garden because it is an integral, natural part of life. Every cup of flour, every bit of sugar, honey, maple syrup, herbs, spices and ore comes from someone’s garden. With each ingredient we bring into our kitchen, we bring a bit of that garden with it.
So why not make a little garden of your own? The easiest and most common way to bring a garden into your kitchen is with herbs. A couple of pots on the balcony, the back stoop or the windowsill go a long way toward re-establishing the connection between kitchen and garden. Watch out though. I have seen such little herb gardens grow into larger and larger patches, with tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and more. Once you experience the joy of growing something and using it in your own cooking, it’s hard to shake.
The next time you are in your kitchen, take each ingredient in hand and consider where it came from. Even if it was grown at some large corporate farm, it still came from the earth. It grew out of the constituent parts that make us all. Think of what it brings to your kitchen, your table, your life. Then, as you enjoy the fruits of your kitchen labors, give some thought to how each piece melded together to make a whole that is more than its parts.
There is simply no way to avoid it — we are all gardeners, each and every day. And the more we recognize this fact, the better off we are.
So… share your gardening stories with us. Simply post a comment below to share tips, thoughts or ask questions about growing your own garden.
LISTEN to Douglas’ “Why We Garden” Podcast