#5: Meet John and Lily, Shoshone Community Garden
“We lived in China for 7 years, where we met when Lily was my translator on a work project. We like it here very much. I am originally from the UK, and we have a culture in the UK of growing vegetables in community gardens called ‘allotments.’ Allotments are very popular there for people that don’t have access to land. They started as an outgrowth from World War II, often referred to as victory gardens, when there was a shortage of food and people had to be self-sufficient. My parents were avid gardeners, and as a boy looking for extra money, I was assigned chores in their vegetable and flower gardens. I saw the value and effort associated with gardening. My grandfather was an amazing farmer. His backyard was always filled with fruits and vegetables. He became very good at growing everything he needed. He spent all of his time in his retirement years tending his garden and got great pleasure from it. He gave away a lot of his harvest because he often grew more than he could consume.
We are looking at our garden as a work in progress. It is something relaxing that we do together. Gardening has given us such a bigger appreciation for our food. We used to be disconnected from all of the vegetables and fruits we ate. We really appreciate those foods now. Even if it is one little tomato, you think “I grew that!” When you pick herbs and use them right away in your cooking, it is a completely different experience from supermarket cooking. When you throw in fresh herbs, you can really taste the difference. We make traditional Chinese-style soup with lotus root and pork and throw in our freshly harvested coriander. It is so simple but so delicious. When you grow herbs, you can benefit from those really strong fragrances in your food right away. The flavor is so intense; you are capturing so many different essences. It makes a huge difference.
As a boy, I was more interested in the pocket money, whereas now, gardening is life-enhancing for us. We enjoy gardening together and we don’t want to lose sight of that. Once it becomes a chore, there is no enjoyment in it. That is what keeps us focused: gardening is our recreation, and we are doing it because we enjoy gardening. As one gets older, you start to appreciate gardening in a very different way.”