Economics of Gardening

“Garden of Plenty’ was possible through the help of amazing volunteers.

This posting was inspired by planning our church’s garden, which provides fresh organic vegetables to the Dorothy Day food pantry.  This spring lots of people have come forward to give us seeds or plants.  Planning is required to fit it all into our small plot.  During harvest, the food pantry has been able to use all our produce, including the late summer tomato glut.

I’ve only heard of a problem with zucchini.  Some pantries can’t give it away fast enough.  It’s a symbol of abundance in Italian heraldry. Garrison Keillor tells of a reverse Halloween in the fictional Lake Wobegon, MN, where you place a bag of zucchini on your neighbor’s doorstep, ring the bell and run. If you get away, your neighbor must take your zucchini.  If you get caught, you must take a bag of theirs.

Why do people bother?  Gardening involves sweat, dirt, sunburn and mosquitoes. It’s much easier to write a check, and the food pantries can buy in bulk.  It’s similar to hunting and fishing.  Equipment and travel costs can easily drive up the price of fish and game above $50 per pound. You can buy walleye in the grocery store for $8. A little more will buy you walleye dinner.  Still, we are eager to hunt, fish and garden.  Doing it just for nutrition takes all the joy away.

Volunteers of all ages came to build the garden beds for our 2012 social justice initiative to provide fresh produce to the ‘homeless and hungry.’

Some of us have never outgrown the joy of playing in the dirt.  I don’t mean soil.  Dirt is soil in the wrong place, like on your face, clothes and wherever you track it where it has to be cleaned up later. I love playing in the dirt.  Soil is sacred:  earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  The root of humility is humus.  We gain peace from the smell and feel of the soil.

We bring forth life in our gardens.  Children delight in the sprouting of seeds.  We take pride in showing off the luxuriant growth.  We like to just stand between the rows and marvel.  We sustain our life by consuming the life produced in our gardens, or other people’s gardens

One of many harvests that the volunteers from FMUU were able to donate to the Dorothy Day Food Pantry.

Still, why bother?  We have a saying in my family, “Two things that money can’t buy are true love and home grown tomatoes.”  Grow your own tomatoes and you get both.  Give them away and you get double.  What really sustains us is the love that we grow and give away.

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About Mike Headrick

Mike Headrick is a theological mutt. He is the grandson of a Southern Baptist minister and the grand nephew of a Methodist Minister. He was raised Methodist and raised his daughters Catholic. Bill Cosby said if you marry a Catholic, then you are one, whether you want to be one or not. He taught Catholic religious education for five years. While in the Peace Corps in Nepal, he had a strong feeling that the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible were saying the same things. He came into Unitarian Universalism in 2008, and was delighted to learn that such feelings are just fine. He is chair of the Social Justice Council at Fargo-Moorhead UU. Nowadays, his Ph.D. in Zoology and career in fisheries biology and environmental consulting are just ways to enhance fishing.