Reflections from a Vegetable Gardener by Jeanne Rosner, MD
I became a vegetable gardener eight years ago. Growing my own food has been one of the most satisfying, tasty and educational experiences I have had in my life. When I go outside to my garden, get my hands in the dirt and pull out something ripe and edible, it is truly an indescribable feeling. The freshest and most delicious seasonal produce is my rich reward, along with big wins for the environment—and it's right in my own backyard!
My hope for you is that you, too, can experience the joy of gardening. Go big with your own garden plot or go small with a garden pot in your kitchen. And if gardening isn't your thing, then my wish for you is to find an activity that can bring you joy, enhance your curiosity and creativity and help you feel a sense of hope and fulfillment.
Some things I have learned from gardening that I bring into my daily life are...
Joy... in the act of nurturing plants, which ultimately nurtures me, my family, my community and the earth. Planting a garden is like planting happiness.
Peace and patience... To be outside in nature, in the fresh air and sunshine, truly enriches my soul. The silence and tranquility of a garden are calming and meditative, which allows me to pay more attention to and marvel at nature's beautiful creations. And while waiting… and waiting… and waiting... for the seeds to blossom, I am reminded to pause and take a deep breath. Mother Nature cannot be rushed, and growing food takes time and patience.
Flexibility... Whatever is available and ready for harvest often dictates what I make for the upcoming meal. Growing seasonal produce has helped me "go with the flow" more in my own daily life, as seasonal growing and living encourage flexibility.
Extreme gratitude and appreciation... for Mother Nature and her riches. I am continually fascinated by all that she offers, especially homegrown produce like the delicious tomatoes ripening right now in my garden. As inspiration for you, simply planting herbs on your windowsill can provide you with similar joy and the satisfaction of growing something.
Impermanence and acceptance... Everything changes; it is part of the natural life cycle. Witnessing change as a seed becomes a plant is awe-inspiring. So, too, is watching as plants eventually flower and die. Additionally, I have learned to practice acceptance when dealing with the many critters that compete for similar resources within the garden. That doesn't mean I'm not sad when the critters beat me to the bounty!
Empowerment... I know that I can positively impact the environment and honor the earth by gardening organically—using cover crops and avoiding both pesticides and tilling the soil. These practices assure better outcomes for the produce and its surrounding environment. Gardening allows one to accomplish great things and build something beautiful for the future. Creating a garden, with its many colors and textures, lets your imagination run free. Audrey Hepburn said it best, "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."
Connection... Soil is beautifully complex, with a rich array of microbes. These microbes work symbiotically with plants and their root systems to help them grow and flourish. As humans, we are connected to the soil through the plants we eat. Healthy soil affects the health of our garden, our human health and the health of our planet. We are all connected.
Growing my own food has been an incredible life experience. The ultimate reward is to grow and then harvest something seasonal, at its peak freshness, ripeness and nutritional value. I love knowing that I am contributing in a positive way to the environment. Gardening brings me closer to nature.
“The glory of gardening: hands in dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” — Alfred Austin
Jeanne Rosner, MD
Jeanne Rosner is a board-certified anesthesiologist who practiced pediatric anesthesia at Stanford Medical Center for nearly 20 years. In 2011, she began teaching nutrition classes in her son's 5th-grade science class. It was an "aha" moment for her. She realized that learning and teaching about nutrition, health and wellness in her community was her destiny.
Since retiring from anesthesia, she has been a nutrition educator at local middle and high schools throughout the Bay Area. She teaches students about the importance of eating food closest to the source, making good food choices and eating in a balanced and moderate way.
Jeanne started SOUL (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, local) Food Salon in 2014. SOUL Food Salon's mission is to educate and empower people to be healthier. She holds events (salons) at which experts in the health and wellness community share their knowledge on how to lead a healthier life.