This past summer was our first ever attempt at a garden. I have wanted to garden for so many years but lacked the knowledge to even know where to begin. I was then blessed with an opportunity to participate in the Homegrown program through Sprouting Hope, our local community garden. Gardening has changed my life and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn how to grow healthy and organic food for my family and neighbors.

I knew I would love to harvest the gorgeous produce and see the fruits of our hard work, but I had no idea the journey would be such a blessing. Gardening has not only helped me fill our basement with canned spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and salsa for the upcoming winter, but it has helped me connect with my neighbors. Many of our neighbors were interested in our garden and came over to encourage us, share some wisdom with us, and check the progress of our vegetables. I never dreamed how a garden could connect people. I have spent more time with my neighbors during gardening season this summer than I have in the last decade.

Our children loved sharing our bounty and we would often load up a basket of goodies and deliver to our neighbors. I love that gardens provide the opportunity to teach our children the value of hard work and that there is joy in loving our neighbor through sharing our harvest.

Gardening gave our family a way to connect and work together towards a common goal.

Gardening has also taught us patience as we have waited all summer long for our delicious tomatoes to ripen which is opposite of what our “fast food” society teaches us. We have created some magical memories as we have all marveled over every new vegetable we have harvested from our garden. What a lesson to teach our children that with God all this produce comes from a little tiny seed we planted in faith in late Spring!

As a Mom, gardening has made me appreciate the satisfaction of providing healthy and organic food for our growing family. We have always wanted to eat healthier but shopping organically in our local grocery store is expensive and would blow our grocery budget for a family of five. Now due to sprouting Hope I have learned how to grow the same vegetables here in our own yard. It is very rewarding to know that you are providing the best food possible for your family. We are already discussing how to expand our garden next year!

Dinner time is now a place to show off our hard work as we attempt to incorporate our vegetables into our meals. We rarely eat out now, choosing instead to enjoy the fruits of our labor at our own dinner table. Using church friends and canning books, I have learned how to can using the water bath method and now have a basement full of salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauce for healthy dinners this winter.

Sprouting Hope you have blessed our family with a new way of life. We have learned how to grow, harvest, cook, and preserve our bounty! We have spent the summer marveling at how God used a little garden to make us healthier, help us connect with our neighbors, serve others through sharing our bounty, and teaching us how to garden.

-Written by Homegrown gardener Laura Robinson.