Saturday, August 30, 2014

Growing Hospitality

Over the few years, I've been blessed to see some of the amazing gardens that some of my local friends have put together. There's the one with the giant dill and sunflowers; the one with the orchard in the back corner; the one with such enormous (but gorgeous) trees that barely anything will grow; the one with an electric fence to keep the local fauna out...the list goes on! I always get some inspiration from every gardener with whom I speak, and more often than not, I get something else to take home too. Whether it's a few heads of dill, a giant zucchini, or a jar of newly-made pickles, it's always fun to come home with a garden offering. Hospitality seems to go hand-in-hand with gardening, but it took this little cutie from El Salvador to help me put the two together in my mind!

So how do you practice hospitality in gardening?

There's the obvious - inviting people over to your house. I love having people over in summer and plying them with rhubarb juice, pickles and relish from my shelves, as well as veggies and berries from the garden.

Sometimes I'll bring some fruit over to my next-door neighbours as well. My elderly next-door neighbour even got into it as she passed all her old Gem jars onto me so I could continue canning!

Others with overstock in their gardens have given me much as well. This year I received rhubarb from several strangers, and in the past I've picked apples at the homes of people who can't keep up with them, as well as raspberries. Several years ago my friend gave me her over-stock of beets, and my mom and I canned over 50 jars of beet pickles. We still have some around.

I have heard of people that do the "plant a row grow a row" program for the food bank, and there are others that help Operation Fruit Rescue save the fruit (mostly apples I bet) that would otherwise fall and rot. They donate 1/4 of the picked fruit to the local food bank.

Then there are some more random acts of gardening hospitality - for example, last month I found a seedling on my doorstep, as did all of my neighbours! We have no idea who did it (although at least one person thought it was me. :) )

I decided the other day to propagate some strawberries from the oodles that I have growing in my yard. I planned to sell them for $2 a plant but I just couldn't do it - it didn't feel right to take money for doing what I love. So I've decided to still sell them for $2 a plant, but I'm going to give the proceeds to help refugees in Iraq. I'd love it if you would join me in sharing with God's people who are in need! You can donate online through World Renew (a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church and an excellent organization) or start your own garden-based fundraiser! Compassion Canada has a disaster relief program that uses local people from churches already in the area to help those in need. 

Maybe you can sell off some of those extra pickles. In fact, you should sell them to me. :)

So now I'm curious - what kind of gardening hospitality have you experienced or participated in?

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