27 May, 2021

As soon as I would hear his car pull into the garage, I would grab the bread and the butter and sprint outside to join my dad for a walk through our garden. If the radishes or onions were ready to be picked, we would brush the dirt off and slap them on a piece of buttered bread for a bite of heaven. Our garden provided more than fresh vegetables for my family; it was a place to meet. There is something so rewarding about bringing people and plants together. No matter if you are seeding, weeding or watering, the aspects of gardening are perpetually therapeutic. Planning a garden mirrors life’s best lesson. Everything must be done in the proper order with attention to detail. Gardens need to be nurtured for growth to occur. You must respond to the conditions and act accordingly if you want it to be successful. Having your hands in the earth tickles the senses. Watching the growth of a plant, from seed to plate fosters feelings of pride and positivity. Fewer things are more rewarding then heading to the garden to gather the ingredients for a meal. Having an abundance of vegetables and fruits triggers a greater consumption of nutrient-dense foods. Healthy eating equals a happier family. My grandmother had an intentionally oversized garden so she could share the bounty with people in her congregation. Every Sunday she could be found preparing a big basket of goodies that she would place on the step of the church. This simple gesture of helping others meant everything to her. Gardening can impact people in a glorious way. Perhaps the world could use a garden right now. Imagine community gardens sprouting up where strangers would come together to heal and prosper. I love the idea of a young family starting a garden under the leadership of the widow across the street. Imagine boxes of free vegetables popping up to help feed families that are struggling. These uncertain times may be the perfect time to plant, share and grow your community. Cathy Graham is the director of Graceful Aging Wellness Center, part of Bethlen Communities in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and a District 3000–HRFA member. cgraham@bethlen.com