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Gardens connect to our rural past

While it is obviously not strictly the case, I have always tended to think of rural living when it comes to large vegetable gardens.

While it is obviously not strictly the case, I have always tended to think of rural living when it comes to large vegetable gardens.

That connection might be tied to my own childhood on the farm where memories remain over the thrilling Saturdays spent shelling peas or cutting wax beans for mom to freeze, or the smells associated with pickling time, of the sheer work of carrying a dozen, or more feed bags filled with potatoes from the truck to the root cellar each fall.

My mother did not have off-farm employment which is largely the norm on farms these days, but that in no way is suggesting she did not have a job.

There was a huge deepfreeze on our porch, and a root cellar below the house, and by the time the snow was starting to make its unwelcome appearance each fall, both were filled with food, enough to get our small family of three through any extended winter, and frankly to feed a small army to boot had it wintered nearby.

There was a garden to tend, chickens to feed, then come fall the produce had to be prepared for winter, the chickens butchered, a pig too actually, and of course there were meals for the field spring and fall, and me to keep at least one eye on. It was a full time job, not 40-hours a week, but practically dawn-to-dusk for her, and most farm women.

In the days of my youth, the 1960s, vegetable gardens were just a commonplace thing. The one on the farm was huge.

The one my grandparents tended in town was smaller due to lot size, but it kept their deepfreeze full, and there was never a time I recall when there weren’t homemade pickles in the basement.

When I started my career as a journalist here in Yorkton three decades ago now, I could have driven most back alleys and found extensive vegetable gardens behind many, if not the majority of houses.

Today that is not the case.

Somewhere in the ensuing years after my arrival in Yorkton things changed. There has been a decline in gardens, or at least that is my perception of it. Anecdotally, I am told a new generation is interested in growing their own food, but time, in spite of the emergence of electronic time savers galore, seems in ever-shorter supply.

Food is a supermarket sourced commodity for most of us these days, with that food sourced around the world, preserved, hauled and at our fingertips for a price, we all seem to think is too much when the topic of grocery store costs come up.

Perhaps I am simply waxing poetic after a recent interview with well-known local gardener Glen Tymiak, but it feels like we are less in control of our own existence when we no longer produce as much of our own food as is possible.

Calvin Daniels is Editor with Yorkton This Week.