Why am I an Organic Gardener?
Organic Gardening is not only something I have been doing for the past 32 years, it is part of my Identity. Organic Gardening provides a significant perspective to my meaning and purpose in life as a person called to minister to others. Here are some of the reasons I am an Organic Gardener:
1. I come from at least four generations of farmers (and gardeners) on the Green side of the family in SE Missouri and five generations on the Fry side of the family in NE Arkansas.
2. I learned to chop (thin) and hoe cotton when I was 6 years of age. This was the beginning of developing mastery skills with various garden tools.
3. I grew up enjoying the gathering of produce from the garden as well as eating it fixed Southern style. As a family we would shell English and Purple Hull peas, break beans, peel peaches, and cap strawberries. A lot of teasing went on. There is nothing more delicious than a bowl of ripe sliced peaches with sugar and cream on them. Grandpa Fry would pick or buy 24 quarts of strawberries in the spring. All the uncles, aunt, and cousins would come for a weekend. Grandma would bake several thin rectangular pie crusts. Then the sliced or crushed strawberries would be poured over a pie crust in a large pan or bowl. A second pie crust would go on top with more strawberries poured on. This would go on until 4 or 5 crusts were covered with strawberries. Scrumptious!
4. My parents moved to Flint, Michigan when I was 14. We were a part of the large migrations of Southerns who moved north to work in the auto factories in the 50s when a family could no longer make a living on a small farm. My dad took advantage of the university library and read J. I. Rodale and Jon Jeavons on Organic Gardening. Dad practiced what he learned in our backyard garden.
5. While in Seminary in the 1960s, I pastored a church in New Salisbury, Indiana. Mr. Kim, who had commercial chicken houses, would dump and disk chicken manure onto the garden area behind the church parsonage. All my church members envied my garden. Aged manure is a wonderful organic fertilizer.
6. In 1984, I was able to buy a home in El Paso, Texas with an area large enough for a garden. I had also read about organic gardening and its health benefits. In my 30’x50’ garden, I tilled in alfalfa hay and leaves, used various organic fertilizers, and laid out a drip irrigation system for my garden. I was the Director of The Pastoral Counseling Service of El Paso. I started my day by visiting my garden for an experiential delight in its beauty. My salvation from seeing over 30 clients each week, was on Saturday to get my hands dirty working in the garden and gathering produce.
7. In 2007, my wife and I moved to Rockport, Texas to be nearer our son and his family in Houston. I soon learned Organic Gardening is very difficult in sugar sand which has no organic content. I helped form the Coastal Bend Composters and Organic Gardeners. We have learned a lot from each other and from our leader, Robert Moore. We learned ways to speed up the composting process. I put 10 – 12 inches of compost on my garden every year. Robert also taught us to make Liquid Microbial Concentrate (LMC) or compost tea. Microbes break down compost into natural fertilizers. Commercial fertilizers kill microbes. My soil is alive.
8. Organic Gardening has taught me much philosophically and theologically. I have learned the wisdom of making mistakes and learning from them. I have learned patience and hope. I have learned much from the miracle of germination or lack of it. I have also learned that in our hi-tech world, people tend to see humans made in the image of our human creation, the machine. If it is not perfect, it needs to be replaced. Plants teach me that we really are made in the image of our Creator. The purpose of a plant is to mature and produce fruit. My purpose is to grow into the wisdom of maturity and value every human being. I am still learning at 75.