When I’m not working in the ASPI garden and Mt. Vernon community garden I’ve visited my grandparents several weekends this summer. I like to visit them but also help in their garden. They always have a big garden full of corn, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, squash, and more. In addition, my grandmother works hard to preserve the harvest by canning and freezing. Thanks to their produce, store-bought corn, beans, and tomatoes have never been good enough for me. Also, my grandmother makes the most amazing sweet pepper relish and I can’t wait for the chance to make it with her.

This past weekend I went to my grandparents’ house when I found out they were going to be working corn along with some of my aunts and cousins. My family gets together for most major holidays: Christmas, Thanksgiving, even Labor Day among others, and now the slightly unconventional mid-July corn harvest. Much of my family gathered for a Saturday full of shucking, silking, blanching, cutting, and packing corn for the freezer.

Reflecting on the day made me realize that gardening was a meaningful way for family and friends to bond. Working corn is kind of a tradition for us, and we get to spend the day hanging around talking while also preparing the corn that will be served at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other meals throughout the year. Plus, my grandparents are always very giving with their harvest. Every time I’ve visited this summer I’ve left with more fresh veggies than I can eat plus some home-canned goods.

This isn’t directly related to our work at ASPI, but it was a great reminder of how special gardening is and how important the work is that Grow Appalachia is doing.