My family farm began about nine years ago when my husband and I got married. It started out with a little plot of land in our backyard where we grew the basic garden foods and only a few plants of each: tomatoes, green peppers, green beans, peas, and a very small strawberry patch. We got a decent green bean crop that year, so my mother-in-law showed me how to can them. That one lesson was just the beginning for me.
Now, nine years and three kids later, we’ve upgraded to a larger house, larger yard, and larger garden. We don’t just grow the basic garden foods anymore either. Our philosophy has become, if we can grow it, we will. We have a quarter of an acre that is just our garden, and then we have several fruit and nut trees. During the summer and fall, we’re eating fresh produce with every meal and a lot of snacks. I also can/freeze/dry all that we grow so we always have fruits and veggies year round. In our pantry right now we’ve still got green beans, multiple varieties of jams, pickles, relish, salsa, tomato juice, and apples waiting for a pie crust. In our freezer we’ve got peas, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, pumpkin, raspberries, rhubarb, applesauce, and strawberries. I make my own garlic and onion powder, and hopefully this year I’ll get my herb garden started so I can have fresh/dried herbs year round as well.
There are many times I ask myself why. It’s another full-time job during the months of April through November, and to be honest, I can’t wait for November to get here every year. But I also can’t wait for April to get here either, especially this year after the winter we’ve all just experienced.
Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Nothing, and I mean nothing, tastes better than home grown food.
2. I know what’s going in the food that I’m eating and feeding to my family.
3. Quality time with my family. We work on the garden together, as a team. My kids are still little, so the amount of help they provide is minimal, but they do still help. My 5- and 6-year-olds are awesome at picking berries. I’m sure several end up in their mouths instead of the bucket, but I can’t think of a better snack. My 3-year-old does what she can, and even though she’s not quite old enough to know what to pick and what not to, she walks through the lines with me or my husband and talks to us while working. All three of them are wonderful at shelling peas, too. And through all of it, we talk. We know what’s going on with each other and share stories.
4. My kids are in great shape. We’re outside all summer. My kids like their electronics as much as the next kid, but during the summer, they don’t get to play on them much at all. If they’re not helping us out in the garden, they’re still outside with us playing on their playset, riding bikes, or running around the yard.
I’m fully aware that this is not a lifestyle for everyone, but it works for us. And there’s nothing stopping each of you from taking advantage of the summer weather either. You can benefit from the fresh produce at local farmer’s markets which are everywhere during the summer. At least for a few months out of the year, the quality of your food will be amazing. And get outside. Ride your bike, go hiking, read a book under a shady tree, spend some quality time with your family and friends. The memories are what last, so make them memories worth keeping.
Life Business Analyst II