My mother and her siblings came from humble beginnings growing up in a small town outside of Montego Bay, Jamaica. Because our family did not always have disposable income when my mother was a child; most of their food came from their own land. They grew their own produce and raised their own animals. Then, they were able to share, swap, and sell the fruits of their labor with their neighbors. This act fostered a greater sense of community because food always bring people together!
I was four years old when I first traveled to Jamaica to meet family and see the home my mother grew up in. During that trip and every trip back, there was always one thing that stood out to me. My uncles would go out into the garden or woods that lined our backyard to harvest fruits and vegetables. We would then make sweet fruit juices with fresh oranges, limes, and apples. The land would also offer fresh greens and other vegetables that would be cooked into a delicious soups cooked on an outdoor wood fire.
This experience was my first taste of the satisfaction of growing and harvesting my own produce. It was not until I went vegan in 2014 that I had the urge to grow my own food, so I dove right in! That summer, I went out to a local nursery and purchased soil and seedlings and came home enthused! I planted cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, orange bell peppers, habeñeros, basil, rosemary and mint! Within a few weeks, I was eating fresh produce from my own garden. This was such an incredible experience! To see each seedling go into the ground then eventually blossom into full grown plants that bear edible food changed my perspective on the foods we eat.
This experience taught me two things: Patience and Appreciation.
The process from planting a seed or seedling to harvesting fruit, veggies, or fresh herbs from a full grown plant can take weeks or even months! I learned to be patient as I waited for each plant to mature and its fruit to ripen. Each day, I watered the plants, checked on them to make sure they were getting the proper amount of sunlight, and even talked to them with words of encouragement and love. As each plant began to bud fruit, I was amazed at the transformation to a edible fruit, vegetable, or herb. Each plant yielded a different harvest with produce that came in all different shapes and sizes. This brings me to the second thing I learned by gardening… appreciation.
I grew to appreciate each harvest as it came.
Every tomato, pepper, and herb grew in different sizes and even different shapes. They were not perfectly shaped or blemish free, but I still appreciated them for that. Like us human beings, we are all imperfect, but that’s what makes us interesting, unique, and beautiful! I saw the same in my harvest each week. Though there may be small imperfections and blemishes on the fruit and veggies I picked, they were all still perfect because they were just as delicious and nutritious.
This summer, I did not get to do as much gardening because my yard space is small and my schedule was crazy busy. But, I still care deeply about where my food comes from, and this is why I love Hungry Harvest! They appreciate the “ugly” produce that oftentimes gets thrown away for being a little off-size, off-color, or little overproduced for most grocery stores. When gardening isn't convenient, I am still able to get fresh produce in a weekly Harvest Box with a variety of fruits and vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste! So whether, you’re growing your own or purchasing your produce, give gratitude for the amount of work and patience needed to grow and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables, and also appreciate every piece no matter its imperfections.
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