When I was a little kid in the 1970s, I remember my abuelito, Antonio, always tending to his small plot of land on the Westside at 21st and Madison. He was a Mexican immigrant that lived through World Wars, The Great Depression, and economic struggles on both sides of the border. He was a rugged blue-collar worker and knew how to grow food for himself and his family. Antonio carried a pocketknife and a handkerchief, and he wore an assortment of fedoras, felt bowlers, and western hats. Antonio was always outside weeding the garden that kept us fed during the fall and winter months. I saw tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro plants, and he even had a few rows of maíz. And if that wasn’t enough, he managed to take care of three fruit trees (apple, peach, and apricot) and a grape vine.
Now mind you, Antonio planted a garden that was at least 25 by 50 feet long in the inner city… all nestled in the middle of two vacant lots and our house. I remember the smell of the freshly tilled dirt, the flowering plants, the ripening of veggies and fruits, and helping with the first harvests of the summer. Best of all were the salsas, grilled corn, and dishes that were produced from Antonio’s garden. These were the best memories of my grandfather’s love and dedication to his garden and family.
We have lived in Coleman Highlands now for over 17 years and have always wanted to build a garden. I’m a full-time professor and part-time musician, and I rarely have time to get the soil ready for planting, let alone try to build a raised garden and such. These have all been excuses for not using the green thumb I inherited from both sides of my family. To garden or not during COVID-19 was my question…and I say ABSOLUTELY!
Here are five reasons to garden during COVID-19 as suggested by Morning Ag Clips.
1. Is a relaxing activity that can be recreational and provides personal rewards.
2. Can get kids to participate in hands-on activities that will enhance their learning.
3. Can help us cope with boredom and it gives us a sense of security as a society and family.
4. Can make economic sense now as it did during wars, a depression, and a few recessions.
5. Can create a community space shared by neighbors, family, and friends, building kinship during good times and not the not-so good.
In this time of physical distancing, with proper personal care we can once again share a healthy bounty of fruits and vegetables (all washed of course) among family, neighbors, and friends. I have no more excuses for not building a raised garden, as I have extra wood in the backyard, two strong and healthy teenagers that can help till the dirt, and three grown adults in the house that can also help sow, weed, and harvest. If you’ve ever thought about gardening and getting to smell, share, and eat the fruits and veggies of your labor, now is the time. Happy gardening, be healthy, and wishing you well!
(submitted by Uzziel H. Pecina)