Seed the Way
In just over five tightly-packed months, this year has begun unlike any other I've known: with a constant whirlwind of intellectual activity and civic engagement, intermingled with major crises involving loved ones -- so much intensity in such a short time.
Through it all, I've come to realize that my theoretically-declared priorities in life have been tested and justified and made all the more precious and worth fighting for. I've taken a good bit of both paid vacation and unpaid time from work in order to be with My Wonderful Parents or the Renaissance Man during their times of need, and there was never a question in my mind that I could be doing something more important.
Exhausting as this time has been, I've been grateful for the time spent with these beloved people and grateful for the realization of what truly is important in life: not money, not ambition or fame, but being with people in the now, in the moment, and appreciating what life has been given to us and what life surrounds us.
Since I'm headed for a milestone birthday this summer (the big 4-0, and excited about it as all get out, thank you very much!), it's reassuring to know that I'm really on the right path, living the life I am meant to lead and finally putting some action behind my words and beliefs.
I read recently about another woman facing her 40th birthday and deciding to ask her family and friends not to give her gifts but rather to give gifts to others –- 40 gifts, to be exact. I thought it was a great idea, and I wondered how I might encourage others to do the same.
My friends and family -– and you, Dear and Faithful Readers -– have come to an amused but often mouth-watering appreciation of my passion for good food and my belief in the need for a better food system than we currently have in this country. So I'm going to give this challenge a food-related twist.
Hence, the Forty Seeds Project. We all need to be nourished by good food, and we can all help each other in ways that might be as tiny as a seed, even when we ourselves need help. Times are tough and getting tougher for so many of us, but there is still much we can do. So this summer, I'd like to ask you all to plant forty seeds -– literally or metaphorically -– of hope for other people.
How? Well, here are just a few ideas to get you started thinking and "planting":
--Plant forty actual seeds in your garden and dedicate that row or patch to charity, giving the produce to a local food bank or to a neighbor in need. (The "Plant a Row for the Hungry" project has encouraged gardeners to participate for several years.)
--Plant forty actual seeds with friends in a community garden or school garden, teaching others how to grow more of their own food.
--Buy forty dollars' worth of canned goods for a local canned food drive. (You don't have to buy it all at once –- add small amounts into your weekly grocery shopping.)
--Give forty dollars to a local food bank or soup kitchen or other organization that provides groceries or meals to those in need.
--Spend forty minutes working in a neighbor's garden to help them when they're busy or unable to do the work.
--Give forty hours of your time serving food in a soup kitchen or helping another local food organization.
--Spend forty minutes –- or hours! –- teaching someone the basics of cooking or food preservation.
How else can you help? There are so many possibilities! (And if you want to share this project on your own blog, let me know.)
I'm a firm believer in taking back some control from the big agribusinesses and food processing corporations over the food that goes into our bodies. That can mean growing your own food, buying local foods and supporting local farms, cooking from scratch, and preserving the harvest for winter. And if it's good enough for us, it should be good enough for everyone.
Seeds are remarkably resilient little things –- almost miraculous. You can store them for years, keep them closed up in the dark, but once you plant them and add a little water and air and sunshine, amazing things can grow and produce even more seeds to begin the cycle again! And we do this every day in our own lives, consciously and un-, sowing seeds in the paths of other people's lives. So why not put your gifts to good use and watch as the seeds you sow bear sweet fruit for others?
Make this your gift this year: seed the way for someone in need.
And may we all have a bountiful harvest with plenty to share!
Many, many thanks to the fabulously talented Jen Hugon for the beautiful logo!