Reflections on the harvest

It is Thanksgiving Week, when we have the chance to continue the great American tradition of reflecting on annual harvest, enjoying the fellowship of family and celebrating our many other blessings. Our pilgrim ancestors courageously came to this new land with very little as they started a new life in the America’s.  Everyone was farming and gardening literally for their survival. They were dependent on the land and the natural conditions of that season to meet their daily needs and to put away enough food and fiber to survive the long cold winter. Every person was involved in sustainable agriculture and the health of their crops and the yield at harvest could be a matter of life and death.

The pilgrims and other early settlers learned a lot from the native Indians including how to grow the crops of this new land and gradually got better at each crop. Some areas were better for corn and others were better for beans, potatoes or other crops and over time, sharing led to bartering or trading and eventually to street markets and today’s farmers markets and grocery stores. We no longer have to raise our own crops, unless we want to, and can select our own skill or trade and then barter or buy the food crops we desire. Prices can still go up when crops are reduced because of droughts, flooding, pests or other challenges but we can almost always get every crop because of production in other areas that can be transported where needed. Our farmers have grown very efficient so that each farmer can support dozens of families instead of struggling to support just their own family.

We are blessed to have the opportunity to grow the crops we choose, even pretty flowers or shade trees and are not forced to spend all our time and energy struggling to raise the grain, vegetables, fruits and animals needed to provide food and shelter for our families. Even though most of us don’t have to farm for our survival, many of us enjoy an inner peace and great satisfaction in raising our own vegetables, fruits and flowers. There is a special pleasure in getting your hands in the soil to plant seeds, bulbs or transplants and to help those small plants grow into the wondrous and beautiful plants that feed our stomachs and our souls.

Use Thanksgiving to appreciate and celebrate your bountiful harvest of the last year and count your blessings, especially the fact that your survival this winter probably does not depend totally on the bean, corn and potato harvest of this last summer and fall. Happy Thanksgiving!

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