Story by

Gilbert Contreras

December 13th, 2016

Moving across the country from a suburban city in Southern California to the mountains of North Carolina meant that everything is different and new. New surroundings, new people, new streets, and we now also have four seasons. Growing food is a whole lot different now, too!

When we lived in the city, we had a small garden in our backyard. Our daughter, Penelope, was barely old enough to walk, and she would go out to our backyard and pick fresh veggies to eat. We loved that. Prior to moving, we stopped growing food for over a year while we searched for properties. When we arrived on our new land, it was essential for us to start growing food again, but we didn't start growing until about two months after we settled in.

We took family trips to check out different garden stores in the area and see what kind of foods were in season. We also visited various farmers' markets to see what other farmers are growing. It felt overwhelming trying to figure out what and how to grow on a larger scale in a completely different environment.

One day we got tired of talking and thinking about it and decided to just do it! I tilled up a portion of the grass, and as a family we raked and removed rocks.

It was an ALL IN moment where we got our hands dirty digging up grass and playing in the dirt in the hopes it would turn that area into our new food garden.

We went with what we knew how to do. We started digging up our garden like we had done in the city. The difference is that it was a larger scale and we had more room to grow. We made long rows for the garden and used hand tools such as a hand wheel plow. Penelope, our five-year-old, wanted to be part of it. Just by observing us doing it and talking about it she was inspired to help. Penelope began helping me plow the rows, using her rake to remove the rocks so we could start planting. We were all excited to start our new food garden.

When it's time to harvest what we grow, it always is a huge deal. We go out to our food garden as a family and begin testing the crops to see if they are ready to be picked. Usually, on a hot day we will end up staying out in the garden snacking and grazing through dinner, eventually picking out food for the next day's breakfast.

Every time we plant something new, we also learn something new. It teaches us not to take food for granted. It teaches us that real food is medicine. We show our daughter the importance of food seeds and that every time you plant a seed it encourages us to believe in the future and not to give up on hope.

We want our daughter to know where real food comes from and how to grow it. We are like our little seeds, change is a struggle, but growth is beautiful.

More Posts by This Guide

Contreras Family: How we got here

Read More