Remembering The Farm; My Decision To Grow My Own Food

This is an entry in this month’s contest “What Inspired You To Start Growing Your Own Food?”.  Be sure to rate this article!

My Decision to Grow My Own Food

I am 62 years old, born in 1951. I grew up on a 100-acre farm in rural New Jersey, living with my Mom, Dad, 2 older brothers and my maternal grandparents. We raised chickens for eggs, cows for milk, boarded horses and had acres of strawberries.

My memory of the hard work is vivid. My grandfather got up early every day, worked the farm, milking and feeding the cows, cleaning the milking equipment, cleaning the barn, feeding the chickens and cleaning up the chicken coops. He tended our large garden, tilled the fields, and worked on the tractor. At lunchtime, he came in for lunch and took a short nap. Then back outside to do more work. My grandmother worked equally as hard, doing laundry, hanging it on the clothesline, then ironing everything, making all the beds, collecting produce from the garden, cooking meals, making butter and braiding rugs. We exchanged food with our neighboring farmers, milk and eggs for meat. I remember that my grandparents were hardly ever sick

My father left when I was a year old. This meant my Mom had to work outside of the home. This was a hardship, as now my grandmother had to do things my Mom had done before which included taking care of us grandkids after school, including helping with homework. My father no longer living there, had been a help to my grandfather on the farm. Therefore, this left my grandfather to do all the work.

I was not spoiled and going to school was hard for me as my friends talked about all the toys and nice things they had, and I felt I did not have those things. In hindsight, I had more than they did, I had healthy, fresh homegrown food, and farm animals to care for and learn about.

At age 13, my Mom remarried and we moved to Maryland (where I still live). I was happy that I did not have to see the large strawberry fields, and walk the long road that led up to our country house to catch the bus any more.

This was the beginning of the decline in my diet by starting to eat processed, easy food. It was what everyone was doing and we were no different. My parents both worked and were tired at the end of the workday.

When I got married and had my son, I looked back and saw all the good I had received from being raised on a farm. I tried my hand at starting a garden, but the weeds overtook it and I got discouraged. I worked full time and my days started early and ended late. I fell into the trap of eating the western diet… just like my parents, boxed mac and cheese, fish sticks and canned vegetables.

Much later, my son went to college and married a wonderful young woman. The house they lived in was broken into in the middle of the day. My daughter-in-law refused to live there and the house was put up for sale. They moved in with me, with a grandbaby and 2 dogs.

My son started listening to podcasts and visiting websites on survivalism. He encouraged me to do the same. I was less than enthusiastic about listening to this type of information. But, there were times when I could not help but hear some of the podcasts he listened to and quite frankly I found the information to be interesting. One of the shows he listened to was The Survival Podcast with Jack Spirko. I didn’t listen religiously, but once in a while. One day Marjorie Wildcraft was a guest on his show. Relating to her because she’s female, I decided to educate myself more by listening and watching videos. At first I felt like I was wasting my time. After a while, I was totally hooked.

My son started 2 gardens, built a compost bin and cold frame for my yard. It was only after I started eating the homegrown food that I knew, I repeat, I knew this was for me. This is when I decided I would grow my own food. This is what my life had been missing – the good food. It evoked happy, healthy memories of my childhood.

My son and family have moved on. I keep the 2 gardens and compost bin going. I listen to podcasts and visit websites about being prepared in case of economic downturn and about storing and growing food. I have never felt more in control than now. I thank my son every day. I know my grandfather is looking down from heaven feeling proud.

Growing food will always be a part of my life. I know that working hard in the soil and eating this food, I am a healthier person, both physically and mentally. Lots of my friends say, you work so hard, why not just buy this stuff at the store. You see, it is a healthy lifecycle, exercise from working in your garden, eating the tasty, unprocessed food. MORE importantly, it’s so rewarding.

My hope is in retirement to move to a more rural location, grow a huge garden, have a chicken or 2 and live in a very small home and yes live more like my grandparents did, working hard and enjoying it.

Wish me luck!

The prize for the winner of this months contest is valued at $100 and includes a copy of the “Grow Your Own Groceries” video set, “Alternatives To Dentists” video set, and 3 months of free membership in the Core Community.  If you want to enter this month’s contest, write an essay on “How You Got Started Growing Food” and submit it here at this link: http://growyourowngroceries.org/contribute-here/


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  • Bonnie says:

    I am the exact same age as you and have just retired from working as an xray tech in an ER for 20 yrs. total. I wish I had used better body mechanics as I had to lift people and use very heavy equipment. My husband has built me a series of garden shelves so I can container garden without bending. You sound like, at our age, it is no problem for you. Do you have any difficulty? I would love to garden in the ground.

    1. Tammy says:

      I am 51. Born in 1963. I have trouble bending over for long periods of time. We are experimenting with fencing panels in the garden. Anything that vines -(cucumbers, green beans, peas )we are working the vines through the panels to make it easier come harvest time. So far the experiment has worked great on the peas. Beans are doing great! Hope to be picking some soon. Maybe the fencing panels would help you with your gardening.

      1. Hi Tammy,

        You might want to check out this video on garden tools for those with bad backa -I did with Bonnie who is in her 60’s. A Senior Gardening Moment

    2. Rebecca says:

      I am also the same age. My family lineage is almost entirely farmers until my parents decided to leave the land. My sister and I grew up in the city with all the conveniences but our parents never let us forget the land. We had a variety pets, geese, rabbits, a pig and lamb and we learned to preserve the bushes of food my dad would bring home. My husband finally convinced me that we should buy a small acreage and orchard. I simply cannot wait to get started.

      1. Rebecca, keep us posted on your adventure!

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