What could four boxes have to do with freedom?

I was looking through garden pictures from this summer and found one of four small garden boxes at the edge of my yard.  When I saw the tall pea vines growing in one box and herbs spilling out of another, I thought of how those boxes, in their own small way, mean freedom to me.

In my temperate climate, peas are one of the earliest and easiest things to grow.  They grow up instead of out, so they don’t need much space.  (My box is four feet wide by eight feet long.)  I put the seed in the ground, cover it, and the spring snow, rain, and sunshine do most of the work.  Once it heats up in May, our automatic sprinklers keep the lawn and the peas alive.

A small space = Independence

In that small space with sunshine and a little water, I’m able to grow juicy, delicious snap peas.  I’m not dependent on a grower who is states away.  I’m not dependent on someone else to choose non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seed, I do that myself.  I’m not dependent on someone else to garden organically, I do it myself.  I’m not dependent on someone to pick, pack, and ship the produce to me from hundreds or thousands of miles away.  I just step out my door and grab a fistful and enjoy them.  I’m not even dependent on my favorite seed company, Victoryseeds.com, for next year’s seed.  While I love to buy their rare and heirloom seeds, I let my peas at the end of the season grow past the point of being perfect to eat so they complete their cycle, the pods dry, and I can harvest pea seed for the next year.  I have the freedom to produce my own food, at least snap-peas, from start to finish! 

It’s fun to watch things grow.  Raising peas gets me outside every day for a few minutes, and they taste delicious.  Sweet Freedom!

Perennials = low cost and low labor

My herb box is only four feet square and has oregano, sage, and thyme in it.  Those are three of the many spices we like to use not only in our cooking but in our remedies, as well.  By growing my own herbs, I have the same freedoms I mentioned above with the snap peas.  While they aren’t free to grow, a seed packet might cost a dollar or two, they are inexpensive, and I enjoy harvesting them.  Because the herbs are perennials, they come back year after year.  I just pick the leaves before a meal I want to use them in fresh, or I harvest them and dry them to use through the winter.  I’ve even traded some of my herbs with friends for some they grow.  The abundance of perennial herbs in a small space gives me the freedom to have tasty meals and share and trade that taste with others.

Experience, Resilience, Variety

These four boxes also give me the freedom to experiment with growing new foods.  While I grow three hundred row feet of garden through the block at my in-laws’ property, my garden boxes give me some space to try my hand at new vegetables and plants.  I can see how much work they are, if they are susceptible to local pests, and most importantly, if they are something my family and I will enjoy eating.  Growing a few plants or a few row feet of plants gives me the freedom to decide if I want to invest 30-60 feet of garden space to them.  Even if I decide that I don’t want to devote a chunk of the garden to something, I still have room to grow small amounts of something to have more variety.

Some of the things I’ve had the freedom to grow were 3 varieties of kale, swiss chard, hubbard squash, several varieties of radishes, spinach, lettuces, heirloom Egyptian “walking” onions, cherry tomatoes, calendula, and watermelon.

Gardens promote health, including financial health

While growing a garden may not be the first step you think of on your path to freedom, gardening and working the land really does increase freedom.  Between producing your own healthy food at a lower cost, getting outside in the dirt and fresh air, and having time to pause and take in nature, gardening can promote financial, physical, mental, and emotional health and health allows us to continue to pursue freedom.

Take the Challenge: Want a taste of freedom?  Build your own box or even get a planter for your back step.  Try growing one thing this year and see if it’s something you’ll like.  Growing your own food is a step toward self-reliance and healthy living and those things put you on the path to freedom.

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