Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Growing Goodness

A month or so ago I read a piece about making a list of the top five things you want your child to learn.
This doesn't necessarily mean 'math/science/history', though not dis-counting those, but can also entail morals and values that are strong in your family.
It's harder than you think. There are so many things  you want your kids to experience, it's hard to narrow it down to only the top 5, especially when you drop the barrier between 'school subjects' and 'life lessons'.
While I have not narrowed down my list whatsoever, the one solid point, that I actually got from the original piece I read, was that I was my kids to know how to grow and prepare their own food.

At first you think, ok sure, how hard is it to stick a seed in the ground? You trying to turn them into a chef with all this kitchen mumbo-jumbo?

Maybe to some it sounds less important than knowing how to manage finances, or memorize the periodic table.

But someday, and I think we're seeing hints of this already, it's not going to be easy to find good, safe food in our grocery stores, if at all.

I was brought up living next door to my Opa, whose entire life has been agriculture. He tended kilometers of tomato greenhouses when he lived in Holland, and even ended up looking after his brother's gardening jobs when they skipped out to go swimming. When he moved to Canada all he knew how to do was farm and moved across the country earning money at what he did best. For years he worked on the Holland Marsh here in Ontario, and has become one of the provinces foremost experts on carrot and onion crops.
This spilled over into home-life where we would grow over an acre of experimental vegetable varieties each year that had to be kept in top shape in order for the trials to be worth it.
In his 'retirement' we still manage almost as much garden space, but mostly 'personal' experiments now with some new variety of potato or another.
I wasn't in the garden much when I was little. But I still watched. And Toby has a drive to just dig, so we were given our own plot when he was young. I knew a lot from watching, but still learned a lot.
Keep your rows straight so the irrigation hose doesn't have to jog.
Keep your rows even so raking and weeding the paths is easier.
Keep the dirt on the paths loose to prevent weed growth and not trap the vegetables in the ground.
Label everything.
Keep track of the day you plant every year.
When the food is ripe, pick it every day.

This style of farming may sound daunting. And I'd be lying if i said it wasn't.
Sometimes I wish I didn't know what I know so I didn't have to be so picky.
But the truth is, it works. Nothing fails. Everything tastes good.

This is what I want my kids to learn. I want them to know what real food is. I want them to know where food comes from so they understand how much work it must take to fill the shelves of a grocery store. ALL the grocery stores. I want them to be able to feed themselves and their neighbours if there is a food catastrophe some day. I want them to know that cooking is not terrifying. I want math lessons based on kitchen measures and garden hose lengths. I want them to grow good things as they 'grow good' themselves. I want them to know what sharing goodness feels like.

I wanted to have a booth at the farmer's market this year, but in the end decided it wasn't the right thing for us. What we're planning to do instead is be 'open' here saturday and sunday mornings with fresh produce and snacks and my sewing projects waiting at the end of the lane. Ideally we would have started already, but life has a way of getting away on you. In the next few weeks we hope to be back on track, and I hope that those in the area can come say hi :)

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