Spring has sprung, and its a wonderful time to be in the Ohio Valley! This past month, my first month here with GrowOV and in Wheeling, has been marked by weather events: back-to-back flood incidents, some days reminiscent of November, and others of August. Now, with green on the trees and a bit of rain, it’s finally feeling like Spring, and what a delight that is! The highlight of the past month has certainly been getting to know all of our Backyard Gardeners. I’ve gotten a taste of their resilience, curiosity, and generosity as we’ve navigated this challenging beginning to our season. We’ve also gotten to hear a bit about what pushed them to join the Backyard Gardeners, and look forward to bringing these stories, and more, to you readers throughout the year. First up is Brittni, who, like many of our gardening families, is here for much more than just the produce…

– Cara Delaney, GrowOV

Pictured: Scott family in the kitchen

In today’s world, where grocery prices seem to rise steadily, finding ways to stretch the budget while still providing nutritious meals for a large family can be a challenge. That’s why our family of ten decided to embark on this opportunity of a gardening journey together. Beyond the financial benefits of growing and preserving our own food, we see it as an opportunity for learning, bonding, and nourishing both body and soul.

With eight children in tow, our decision to participate in the Grow Ohio Valley Backyard Gardeners program wasn’t solely about saving money on groceries. It was about fostering a deeper connection with nature, food, and each other. Our older children have already gained experience with gardening, cooking, and preserving food through programs like 4-H, and now we’re excited to extend those skills to our younger ones.

For us, gardening isn’t just about planting seeds and reaping the harvest. It’s about teaching our children where their food comes from and instilling in them a sense of responsibility and gratitude for the Earth’s bounty.

Through hands-on experience in the garden, our kids will learn valuable lessons about patience, hard work, and the cycles of nature. They will witness the miracle of a tiny seed transforming into a thriving plant, and they will understand the effort required to nurture that growth.

But gardening isn’t just about the physical act of tending to plants; it’s also about the joy of harvesting and enjoying the fruits of our labor. From picking ripe tomatoes to snipping fresh herbs, we hope our children will delight in the satisfaction of bringing food from garden to table. And by involving them in the cooking process, we can empower them to make healthy choices and appreciate the flavors of homegrown produce.

Gardening can provide us with an opportunity to bond as a family. Whether we’re planting seeds together, weeding rows of vegetables, or enjoying a meal made from our garden bounty, these shared experiences will strengthen our familial bonds and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

As we embark on this gardening journey together, we’re not just growing fruits and vegetables; we’re cultivating connections – with nature, with food, and with each other. And in a world that often feels disconnected and fast-paced, these moments of togetherness are truly priceless. So, as we dig our hands into the soil and watch our garden flourish, we will be reminded of the simple joys and profound blessings that come from embracing the earth beneath our feet.

– Brittni, BYG 2024