Families are strengthened when they learn, work, and play together. Growing a garden as a family is a good way to both learn and work with the added blessings of having some fun and providing some food. Children enjoy working with adults in many tasks and especially in gardening. It can be a pleasant experience for all.
Many years ago President Spencer W. Kimball counseled the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to grow as much food as possible on our land. At another time he read the following excerpt from a magazine: “Almost every backyard has what every person needs: a way to help cut inflation and ease the world food crisis in the process.
“It’s called `land.’ And there doesn’t have to be much of it to help a lot.
“It can be the play area that doesn’t get played on anymore, a sunny plot behind the garage, a 10-foot strip that runs across the back of the lot, or the adjoining lot that was bought to grow grass and play catch on.
“And all you need to make this space lower your food costs is to raise your own vegetables on it.
“It’s been calculated that a carefully managed garden just 15 x 20 feet in size can yield almost $300 worth of fresh food in six months. So the savings can be substantial.”
President Kimball then continued: “We are pleased that many people are planting gardens and fruit trees and are buying canning jars and lids. City officials here and many other individuals are planting patches of soil almost equal to the days of the `victory gardens’ in World War II. We congratulate those families who are listening and doing.” (See “Why Call Me Lord, Lord and Do Not the Things which I Say?” Ensign, May 1975.)
One family listened to President Kimball’s remarks and decided to grow a garden. There were many challenges, inconveniences, and complaints, but there were also positive outcomes from following the counsel of the prophet. This family learned: (1) The “importance of planning ahead. Those years when we took time to plan carefully, our garden produced more. (2) They learned through participating with nature and enjoyed delicious food. (3) The children learned to work and accept responsibility. (4) The family learned gardening skills. (5) The children gained self-confidence. (6) The family learned the law of the harvest. “A successful garden requires planning and work. If we wanted fresh corn in August, we planted seeds in April.” (7) They gained opportunities to share and serve by sharing their garden produce with others.
The greatest lesson this family learned is that their “family grew closer together as we planted, weeded, and harvested together. In time we came to realize we were not just growing a garden, we were growing family traditions. Our obedience to the prophet’s counsel has produced a bounty of blessings in our lives.” (See Trisa L. Martin, “Growing More Than Gardens,” Ensign, June 1997.)
The planning for a garden can start today. It is not too late even here in Anchorage to prepare a garden spot. By preparing it in the fall, you will be that much further ahead in the spring. I made a small garden in my yard after I harvested all my plants from this year because I recognized that I needed a better place with deeper soil.
Working and playing together is important in families. Growing a garden together can be both work and play. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by growing gardens and teaching our children how to work and play together.