Gardens are breathtaking. There is something mesmerizing about a person creating something out of nothing with their own two hands. Putting in the work of tilling, weeding, planting, tending, watering, and picking is time intensive. However, the end result is well worth all the blood, sweat, and tears.
Two weeks ago, I had the joy of going and visiting The Schluter family who go to my home church and live in Cottageville, SC. Miss Toni and her husband have an extensive garden that spans the entirety of their backyard. They grow over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables over the course of the year. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, collards, squash, zucchini, peas, corn, asparagus, herbs, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, figs, pears… You name it, they grow it!
I got to sit down with her and her husband and pick their brains about gardening and maintaining a variety of crops at one time. I think the thing that struck me the most about my visit was their sheer depth of wisdom about growing crops. It’s something that honestly can only be learned with time and experience. I would love to be able to start tomorrow and create a fantastic garden bursting with tomatoes, zinnias, zucchini, and strawberries, but gardens don’t grow overnight. They require patience, hard work, and a special attunement to what each crop needs.
Similar to a relationship or friendship that necessitates care, gentleness, and selflessness, a garden is a wonderful metaphor for living the Christian life. Christ satisfies us, protects us, guides us, and cultivates us to be more like Him every day. But it doesn’t just happen overnight, it’s a choice that we have to make every day. In whom will I put my trust? What will I focus my energy on? Is my purpose bent on benefitting me alone or on blessing my community? When we ask Christ into our lives and into our daily walks, He becomes the gardener of our hearts, pruning, tilling, watering, and lavishing us with his infinite grace and mercy so all the glory is pointed upward to Him alone.
And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water
whose waters do not fail. // Isaiah 58:11
Miss Toni said her garden started with a plot of peas and over the years has grown into a beauty of diverse crops. Some of her favorite crops include the Carolina Reaper Pepper, Pink Eye Pea, and Texas Everbearing Fig. My favorite part about my visit was learning that they never sell any of what they grow, they eat it, can it, freeze it, or give it away to family and friends. They aren’t in it for profit, they just want to bless other people with their gifts. It’s a beautiful example of selfless, Christlike love. I am so thankful Miss Toni and Mr. Robby let me come and visit to see what a little bit of sweat, hard work, and love could create.
Pictured Left to Right: Carolina Reaper Pepper, Pink Eye Pea, and Texas Everbearing Fig // Photo credit: Google Images
Visiting this massive garden got me thinking. The farm-to-table movement has become a huge part of Charleston’s food and agriculture scene. All the hippest, trendiest restaurants boast about how they use local produce, meats, and seafood. The fresher the food, the better. But when you think about home growers who provide for themselves, their families, and their friends, they too are a part of the farm-to-table movement. They are eating what’s in season and being good stewards of what they have. What an honorable example!
It’s wonderful to see that home gardens are still around and thriving. Witnessing others create and cultivate a myriad of fresh produce right in their own backyard is really inspiring. Maybe one day I will have the skill and stamina to create a beautiful garden like the Schluter’s too. With God’s help that is!