Gardening is Good for the Soul
Gardening is a part of Hank's history, as well as America's.
Editor Oscar H. Will III and one of his mulefoot pigs, Daffodil.
It might be because I grew up in a seed-producing family, or that I had the privilege of biting into North Dakota–grown tomatoes right from the field … still warm from the sun. It might also be that the miracle of drawing food from the earth, using little more than a tiny seed and a bit of effort captivated me from the very beginning. Perhaps I am genetically predisposed to raise a crop because my ancestors, and their forbears, in turn, did just that. In any case, I discovered at a very young age that vegetable gardening is good for the soul.
Many eloquent essays have been written on the healing powers inherent in the act of gardening; urban planners in New York City learned that community gardens were not worthless areas of idyllic pastoral tranquility, but the glue that bonded people of different experiences, ethnicity and social stratum into an amalgam of healthy urban culture. Community gardening minimizes differences and heals hurts. Community gardening is good for the soul.
During the First World War, the National War Garden Commission was formed in the United States; its mission was to promote gardening. The American workforce was engaged in producing materiel; farmers headed off to active duty by the thousands. Armies needed to be fed, those left behind needed to be fed … and they needed to know they were doing their part. The War Garden program brought the most likely and unlikely of people together. Participants collectively took up the cause and planted gardens in unlikely and likely places. The 1918 effort produced more than $500 million in homegrown food. War gardening did much to keep the country marching on, but it also brought people together, and it was good for their suffering souls.
During the Great Depression, gardening again became a matter of life for many folks. Unemployed and unappreciated souls found physical and psychological solace in stirring the soil and nurturing their own nourishment from the earth. Early psychologists reported that humans thrived when there was a firm connection between culture and nature … they prescribed gardening as therapy for malaise. Vegetable gardening was good for Depression-era souls.