Gardening is more than a hobby for my family and me. It is how we sustain our family and save money throughout the year by preserving as much of the harvest as we can. More than that, we have learned that our garden can bless other people and that is a satisfying feeling.
I am always surprised at the amount of food I can produce in a year. I only have a small acre of land and most of it is lawn for my kids to enjoy. I preserve enough produce to cut our grocery budget down by half most years. Somehow, I also find ways to use my passion to bless others in my community. If this interests you, here are a few of my ideas.
Share Your Produce
Most of my plants seem to produce at an insane rate. Some weeks I struggle to get everything preserved. If I have too much and it might go to waste, the best thing I can do is share my produce. While I do give some of it to my neighbors, I also love to take them to our local homeless shelters and community programs.
A local family runs a house that feeds over 100 people each day in our community. They always need food throughout the year. I try to drop off food to make salads – zucchinis, tomatoes and more to help meet these needs. I encourage you to find out if you have a local program where you can donate your surplus!
Another idea is to make meals with what you produce. You can share the meals with homeless shelters, neighbors and friends. Zucchini turns into zucchini bread, stuffed boats, chips or spiral noodles. You can make homemade tomato sauce or create a stir-fry with a variety of vegetables. The ideas are endless. Make sure to share some of your creations with others.
Start a Community Garden
Our local town has a small community garden with 20 raised beds. That might seem large, but it isn’t in comparison to the number of people that it feeds. Each year I start extra vegetable seedlings for the garden. Because I save my seeds throughout the year, I have plenty left to share. Seedlings can be expensive in the store; but this way people don’t have to purchase them.
Community gardens are growing in popularity across the nation. Not only do they help to supplement the produce needs of local programs, but community gardens also help to teach people how to produce their food. Having a local community garden also leads to the next idea.
Teach a Class
Once you have the whole gardening thing under control, consider teaching a class to your local friends and community. You might be surprised to discover that many people want to garden but are afraid because they don’t have any experience. Trying something new without any experience is daunting.
If offering a class interests you, contact your local extension office. They can send out a newsletter or post to their website. Many extension offices also have booths at local farmer’s markets and can put you in contact with those who are interested.
Gardening Helps the Future
As a mother of two kids, I want to ensure I send children out in the world who can survive. While we may have grocery stores around every corner, I love knowing that my children, from a young age, learned how to garden and produce their own food. No matter what they face in life, I know my kids will be able to sustain themselves and their families because of the skills I taught them.
Gardening means peace for me. Years ago, I never let myself admit that I needed more than parenting. I thought it should be enough to fulfill me until I learned it wasn’t. Gardening is a way to connect with others around me in the community, as well as a method of providing for my family.
Throughout the year I spend hours in my garden. Our family relies on the garden for our produce. Now I can use the skills I learned over the years to help those around me. There is nothing better than seeing the benefits of my hard work bless others.