by Jean Blish Siers *
It’s Father’s Day, and I’m looking at a picture I keep on my desk: my father George Blish, holding an enormous rutabaga. He must have been in his late-70s when this picture was taken on our farm in northern Minnesota. He’d been a farmer his whole life, and when he retired from farming, he didn’t leave his love of the soil behind. He continued to raise big gardens and he and my mother put away food that fed them all winter – freezers full of vegetables and fruits, shelves of pickles and jams and jellies.
I’m not a farmer. I have a backyard garden that produces enough to sometimes keep me in lettuce and grape tomatoes! If I had to live off it, I’d be mighty skinny. But I learned from my father that farmers are full of wisdom and generosity, and that the soil gives back to us if we take care of the soil. To take it a step further, the world gives back to us, when we take care of the world, and that includes our hungry neighbors.
He’s been gone 20 years this month and I still miss him every day. I wish I could tell him that even though I’m not a farmer, I get to spend my time with them, as they literally share the fruits of their labors with those who are less fortunate. I wish I could thank him one more time for instilling in me a love of the land, sunshine in the summer and the dormancy of winter, and the knowledge that when we give to something, we get much, much more in return.
* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.