First came marriage. Then came begging for a garden -- not a landing pad for shrubs and flowers but a grass-free square in the yard in which I could plant seeds and raise salad, salsa and sauce fixins.
My first gardening endeavor was disastrous. I thought the hours spent working under my mom's expert green thumb made me a gardener. Not so. The heavy black soil had more clay than I was used to. The grass and weeds fiercely battled to reclaim their space, winning in the end against my waning commitment.
Each spring I renewed my efforts, fueled by grand plans of preserving the garden bounty to enjoy during the winter. Why put in the effort to grow a garden but not the effort to enjoy the harvest?
As is the case with anything, practice yields progress, and age does make one wiser. I now appreciate the therapy of gardening and forgive myself when time doesn't allow for a day to make salsa or freeze every bean pod. Still, watching good garden grub disappear back into the soil is disheartening.
That is why I "opened" my porch pantry last summer. Previously, I would drag garden produce with me while running errands hoping someone would ask for a zucchini. But, last summer, with nowhere to go, I stocked my porch shelves, posted a picture and wrote, "Come and get it!"
Thus began the summer of sharing. My porch wasn't the only space "open for business". Our community's youth center, although closed because of COVID, turned its lobby into a giving center. People left necessities. Gardeners delivered excess produce. Whoever was in need came to "shop." The center's director reported the vegetables disappeared as quickly as they arrived.
Vegetables, it turns out, are not only good for us but good for the soul when shared.
-- Katie Pratt writes, tweets, farms and raises garden produce from north-central Illinois. Find her blog at theillinoisfarmgirl.com, and follow her on Twitter @KatiePratt4
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