Growing up in Queens, NY, we had a large home with a big backyard.
A few tall choke-cherry trees and mulberry trees lived in that yard.
We didn’t plant those wild fruit trees. They came with the property, and the big-old house that was built in the 1800’s.
Those trees produced fruit year after year, but we never harvested their bounty. Once in a while we would eat a few berries, but mostly we ate the fruit my mom brought home from the grocery store; oranges, grapefruits and bananas.
Back then we didn’t appreciate the backyard fruit because it was small and annoying. When those little mulberries and wild cherries fell onto the backyard deck, we would sweep them off and out of the way, so we wouldn’t have squashed berries plastered to the bottoms of our feet.
Our immigrant neighbors though, had a different connection, and reverence for, locally grown food.
The German neighbor that lived on the right side of our house had a garden that she tended every spring, summer and fall. She grew cucumbers, peppers, squashes, lettuces, string beans, tomatoes and potatoes. She also had a couple of crabapple trees and peach trees.
The Italian neighbor, on the opposite side, planted basil, rosemary, thyme, and mint. Plus, she had a large vegetable garden that covered her entire front yard and snaked around the side of her house as well. She also had a couple of fig trees. She was literally surrounded by a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and flowers. Including HUGE sunflowers that, true to their name, looked just like the sun.
Our neighbors’ yards were bustling with activity; bumblebees, butterflies and other flying creatures buzzed around all day long. My friends and I joked that we needed to race past the neighbor’s house so we wouldn’t get stung.
Those insects didn’t want anything to do with us – they were busy going about their daily work pollinating the flowers and fruits.
The early immigrants that came to America were very smart. By growing their own food, they saved money, got daily exercise, connected to the earth, and had access to the freshest, ripest and most delicious produce in town.
It made a BIG difference in quality of food, and quality of life.
Plus, my neighbors were supporting the entire ecosystem by planting gardens for the bees and butterflies to thrive. “Without the pollinators, the human race and all of Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems would not survive.”
Interestingly, the neighbors’ yard’s smelled sooooo good! Between the fragrant flowers, aromatic herbs, and brightly colored fruit and veggies, it had all the makings of a veritable feast for the senses.
Besides supplying your body with the freshest food, tending a garden helps connect people back to the earth, and to the natural rhythm and cycle of the seasons. Specific foods only grow at specific times of the year. And, my neighbors knew that because they were “connected.”
Clients often tell me that they have NO idea what is “in season.”
Most modern folks think that all food is available at all times throughout the year – and that’s simply not true. Fruit and vegetables are naturally rotated throughout the seasons.
Eating the same food all year round without rotating your dietary choices can damage your digestive terrain, contribute to a damp internal environment, lead to nutritional deficiencies and bone loss, negatively impact your endocrine system, and create overall imbalance.
Do you alternate your food choices throughout the year?