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Garden grows life lessons

Garden grows life lessons


I love to have my kids help me in the garden, not because they actually help very much, but because it is a space that encourages them to tend to something, to care for it, to nurture it.  It is a joy for me to watch them plant seeds and water shoots and tend plants and finally to pick the fruit.

Ethan, my eldest son, planted sunflowers last year, and they were beautiful, but he decided to plant something different this year.  As the spring went on, however, we discovered that last year's sunflowers had gone spectacularly to seed, growing a whole forest of new plants along our sidewalk.

Marlon, my middle son, checks the zucchini plants everyday, monitoring their growth until the precise moment when they are large enough to pick according to some standard that only he knows, bringing me identically sized gourds whenever they are ready.

Jayden, my youngest son, gathers up the fallen fruit from our apple trees, picks any raspberries that he can reach from the boulevard, and searches through the strawberry plants for any late blooming fruit.

Without even realizing it, they are all learning what it means to care for something rather than just to buy it, how to nurture something rather than just to have it given to them.  They are learning that this kind of tending can produce real and tangible fruit, not always, because gardening fails as much as it succeed, but often.  And this is a lesson about life as well as about gardening.

Luke is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged eight, six, and two.  He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university.   He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.