The Year of the Raspberry

Ever notice how some years there’s a bumper crop of certain plants? Cucumbers so numerous you can’t give them away and you’re up to your eyebrows in pickles? And the most prolific of growers, the cherry tomato. Why is it we plant more than we could ever use or give away? Each year this phenomenon is echoed among neighborhoods and communities.

Or, God forbid, you live in a food desert. Yes, they do exist. We’ll get to that in a moment.

If you’ve followed my blogs you know I love nature, gardening and just being in the earth. Nature is magical and like music, feeds my soul.

Last year I spent very little time in my outdoor oasis. It saddened my heart, yet my determination to create and build a website that would contribute to the betterment of humanity and the world, kept me focused. Sitting for hours each day took a toll on my physical and emotional body, but I knew the day would come that I would find myself once again, among the splendor and lush growth of nature.

Like a flash of lightening, the year has passed. Spring’s rain brought summer growth in a matter of weeks. And there before my eyes was a jungle. What we call “miagied” gardens (referring to perfectly trimmed and sculpted plants) had become overgrown masses of scarcely discernible foliage.

Lemon balm, violas, rose campion, dandelions, strawberries, and more were growing from the once perfectly clean patio cracks and crevices. Yep, it is also the year of lemon balm. It’s EVERYWHERE. And the June bearing raspberries? They came in May and stayed for weeks, sometimes making it to a smoothie, most often not.

As I stood in amazement at all the beauty around me, one word screamed through my mind, “TRIAGE!” There was so much to do. Food was a priority so I started there. I looked out over my garden space and much to my delight volunteer mustard greens were growing by the hundreds, in addition to kale, a big patch of potatoes and the most invasive yet beautiful cousin of the sunflower, Jerusalem Artichoke. It was a good start.

It is good to be out again, nurturing nature and myself. I am blessed, yet I wonder, “What about those that cannot grow their own food, or worse, live in Food Deserts? Not having the experience of living in a big city or an inner urban environment, I was naïve. I thought everyone had access to a grocery store or market with fresh fruits and vegetables. For many people a trip to the grocery store is not much more than shopping at a quick mart; there may be bananas and possibly apples, but everything else comes in a box, can or package. How do these people stay healthy? I imagine they don’t.

Fortunately, community gardens are springing up all over the country. They are transforming vacant lots into vibrant civic spaces and bringing people together. Schools, public housing associations and community groups all benefit from garden programs that teach, inspire and promote sustainable gardening, humanity’s connection to nature and nutrition education for adults and students.

Nature’s food is our lifeline to survival. Whether you grow your own, shop at your local co-op or farmer’s market, one thing is certain, the food you eat will determine your health and your future.

Eden’s Corner will feature gardening topics in the future. Stay tuned!

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