In my inaugural article for Threads Magazine, I am torn between telling you about how gardening has literally saved the lives of millions of Women of Color like me, during this pandemic… or telling you about how tired I am of walking into my yard and seeing squash and zucchini.
Por que no los dos? Somehow, we will eventually talk about all of that.
But first, I will tell you how “I” got here. Bear with me, this is the first article I have ever written, outside of a random blog from years ago.
I have been an avid urban farmer for about 10 years. I began with a small garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, zucchini, squash, and spinach.
I began gardening because while I did not know it, I was in the throes of depression. I had three beautiful children, but I was not my best self. My marriage and my career were mostly in shambles because the whole economy was, and because my husband had struggles of his own that had nothing to do with me, but still, they affected me because I internalized all of this.
In my secret, personal struggle, I had tried family, food, hobbies, yoga, anger, and even jesus.
But, I needed something else. A lot of times, when I was kind of folded into myself, I used to just stare at the ground, at the dirt, because that’s how I felt. Like dirt. Lower than dirt.
I say all of that to say this: I am not saying that some of the things that I tried will not work for you. One of these things might give you the sense of purpose you need. Three of these things might. I do not know. I am not a doctor- I have a useless Hospitality Management degree. What I AM saying, is that nonna this shit worked for ME. A meaningful hobby with a sense of purpose, some therapy, and some good old pharmaceuticals is what worked for ya girl. Try it. For God so loved the world, he gave us his son as well as the sciences.
But, I digress a little.
As I stared at the dirt, I remembered that my granny, Jammie Lee Mike Hardy (may her soul inspire and smile upon us forever), used to have a garden. It was just something she did. It was just somewhere she went. She didn’t tell anyone really anything about it, she just went out there, and she played in the dirt. I remember that.
So. One day, I took my lower than dirt ass on outside, and I did a terrible job of mixing that dirt up (because I had no gardening tools, and I had never used a shovel except at the beach, AND THIS WAS NOT THAT), and I added some seeds into it. No one helped. But that was ok. Because, this was all on me.
The rabbits ate my spinach. The sun scorched my beans. I kept not noticing my squash and zucchini, so it was enormous. And the cucumbers? God, there were so many, because no one had told me that they multiply like roaches in the night. I was eaten alive by bugs, taunted by rabbits and squirrels, and terrorized by snakes and spiders. And the tomatoes. Fuck the tomatoes. I watered them, tried to prune them, tried to keep them standing up, and all they did was grow leaves and fall over and break! And when I DID get tomatoes, they would be bitten by giant caterpillars (did you know this was a thing? Why is this a thing? Why can ONE of these niggas eat YOUR WHOLE PLANT? How is this even fair? Why are they the SAME COLOR as the PLANT!?? WHAT?) or, they would burst open on one side, and get all oozy and gross (because I knew nothing about gardening, and I was watering the HELL outta these poor tomatoes), or they would be small like gnarly rocks. Ugh.
Still. I counted it as a win, of sorts. While I felt slightly like less of a woman because all sources say that literally ANYONE can grow tomatoes, I had grown SOMETHING. With my own hands. I had literally thrown something into the dirt, and coaxed forth life and nourishment.
And so began my redemption. Because even dirt has a damn purpose- to bring forth life. And sometimes? Abundant life. Because, after I gave up on the tomatoes and all but abandoned them, I went out there a few weeks later, and there, beneath the overgrown, but lush af, vines and leaves…. Were more tomatoes than I had ever seen in one place, in my entire life. Beautiful, fat, juicy, not overwatered, organic heirloom tomatoes.
I guess the point of all of this is that sometimes, circumstances just need time. Time, mercy, and a little bit of separation, I guess. BUT- redemption is possible for all of us.
I will see you soon,