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Guest Blogger: Aremita Watson

February 16, 2024
Aremita Watson

Respecting the land and sowing seeds is part of my family history and legacy. My family owned and farmed land in Alabama even before they moved to West Virginia in the 1920’s to work in the coal mines. Knowing how to feed oneself was an important survival skill to be passed on to each generation, including mine. During that time, many families only had access to blue collar jobs with low paying wages and worse access to good health care. The jobs were very physical and dangerous. Unemployment, strikes, injuries and possibly death were daily concerns. Knowing how to grow and store one’s food was critical to the overall health and welfare of the family.

Often our food was our medicine as well as our nourishment. The closer our food came from our garden, the healthier it was for us. We were taught the importance of understanding this relationship. Our relationship with our food was almost a spiritual one. Gardening is a lot of work marrying your relationship to the environment and your ability to nurture. It’s very much like raising children. You’re never quite sure what you are going to get despite the number of resources given. Some seeds even grow in the harshest environments. It’s amazing how nourishing a seed can produce such bountiful results. There was nothing like a good fresh meal from the garden. We were taught the taste of good, fresh food. It was our way of showing love.

Growing our own food provided another important aspect to our lives, one of community. As gardeners, we generally always had more than enough harvest to share with our neighbors, even after preserving what foods we needed for the winter. Sharing fresh food was always a means of having conversation with our neighbors. We shared our bounty regardless of whether our neighbors were in need or not in need, it was caring for one another. I can remember times when the mines would go on strike for weeks at time with no income. However, we had the produce from our gardens to supplement our meals.

Even today, I share my produce with my neighbors and those I meet, despite there being a significant difference in the economic background from which I was raised. Many churches I have attended have food pantries. The parishioners who have gardens bring their excess crops or as some would say, “plant a little extra for their neighbors,” to the church and place it on the table during social hour to share with the church community. Once I moved to a suburban environment, I didn’t have as much area to grow my veggies and I began growing them in pots. I also learned to seek the roadside stands and farmers markets to source my fresh produce, just as I had done as a child when harvest was not enough.

It’s very important to share your bounty with others to remind ourselves of the relationship between our health and wellbeing, and where our food comes from. Many people live and work in food deserts, whether they live in an urban or rural environment. So many of us depend on supermarkets or corner stores to provide us with the food we need. It takes an enormous amount of navigation to provide our families with healthy meals with so much of it being the result of mass production and poor labor practices. Who would have thought that the source of food would result in very expensive lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Sharing our produce also provides an opening for the topic of the environmental effects of climate change. We have separated ourselves from the soil. The soil is the source of our nutrients. Sharing our produce brings all of us so much closer to our origins.

Aremita Watson is Chief Executive Officer for Aremita Corporation, a business focused on delivering strategic management solutions to non-profit and for-profit organizations. Her extracurricular activities include leading an investment club, and gardening.

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