Seed-to-Feed:  An essay

By Diane Lund, Creekside Church of the Brethren

I grew up in a modest home on a modest piece of land in the Chicago area.  My dad was a ‘city boy’ and my mom was a ‘farm girl.’ Each parent brought their own strengths to our home:  Dad could fix anything and mom taught us ‘seed to feed.’

Her parents lived on a small farm in Elkhart County in the same house in which my mom grew up.  Our family often traveled there so as to lend a hand with the garden work. ‘Too young’ was not a phrase we heard:  when it was time to work the garden there was a task for everyone. I remember following behind my grandpa, dropping pieces of potato into a freshly-tilled trench:  I know I was very young at the time because the image that is burned in my memory are his work boots.

We worked together to plant seeds and seedlings, pull weeds, stake young plants, pull off tomato worms, and provide water as needed.  Were we tired? Yes. Was it hot at times? Absolutely! But the effort brought forth the thrill of harvest: heading out to the berry patch early in the morning to pick a bowl of fruit for the breakfast table; shelling peas with my grandmother, sitting side by side under their willow tree; tasting a sun-warmed tomato fresh off the vine; spending the day picking, prepping and processing peaches and knowing there is, truly, a good kind of tired.

I learned to love the process, the common work, the fellowship around the table at the end of a long day, and the joy that comes from sharing what you have been given.  This is what drew me to participate in the ‘Seed to Feed’ garden at our church.

I recently learned from a friend about the pre-Christian Celtic belief in the sacredness of transition.  The Celts called these times, ‘thin places,’ where the separation between this world and the next was thin enough so as to almost allow a glimpse of the world beyond.

And what is a garden but a place of sacred transition?  Seeds transform to productive plants; willing hands harvest the produce; hungry hands receive it. Souls are fed; bodies are nourished; lives are changed.

The belief in ‘thin places’ resonates with me:  even though they have passed to eternity, it is when I am working in a garden that I strongly sense my grandparents are nearby.

Sacred, indeed.


Hayley Tessier