Gardens don’t wait

When we got back to our garden after vacation last week, I was reminded of something that’s easy (and dangerous) for us to forget in this age of giant grocery stores: growing food is really hard work.  It’s rewarding and good work, but it is hard.  After preparing the garden carefully for our absence and getting a neighbor to agree to water when needed, we thought we’d be able to leave for a week and a half without too much trouble.  Nature thought otherwise.  Upon our return, we found weeds as tall as our preschooler.  What had been a stray beetle here and there had turned into whole villages of beetles.  Blights had started taking hold on the tomato plants because there was too much rain and nobody there to remove the struck leaves before it spread.  Gardens don’t wait.  They require daily attention, careful planning, committed presence, and a willingness to learn what is needed and respond quickly.  And they often require hours of back-breaking and hand-busting labor – all for something that’s never a sure thing, that can be lost in one storm or flood or early frost or blight.  Our garden plot is only 50’x50′, and our investment is small.  When I imagine how much more work and trust and skill is required of our growers with acres of fields, who provide food for all 28 CSA households as well as local farm markets, I’m struck by the fact that, these days, most small farmers also have to work a day job to get by. 
So when you sit down to your fresh, local dinner this week, take a moment to think about our growers who work after hours for us, or work through their retirement, in the sun and rain, instead of vacation, always attentive to their fields’ urgent needs, to grow the food we have on our table.  Not one of them would ever ask for our thanks or even expect it.  But, even so, a delicious meal tastes so much better with a delightful helping of genuine gratitude.