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Seeds of Love: Father’s Day Tributes from the Garden

  • 5 min read

Father’s Day is a chance to celebrate the great Dads out there, and many of us have some cherished memories of our Dads in the garden. So often, it was a Father who inspired our love of nature and taught us the magic of nurturing plants from seed to harvest. Working in the garden with Dad also taught us to value hard work and patience. Perhaps most importantly for growing kids, it also introduced us to the joy of eating fresh, delicious food we grew ourselves! This year, we're sharing a few heartwarming memories from our team as a loving tribute to our Dads. With our work at Survival Garden Seeds, we hope to continue to spread the love of gardening that our Dads have passed down to us.

Jason: Growing Up with a Garden & a Generous Heart

Jason in the garden as a child

My earliest memories with my Dad are connected to the garden, especially riding on the back of the rototiller at the end of the season. Dad was a school teacher, and there were 9 of us kids altogether. My mom didn’t work outside the house. That’s a lot of mouths to feed on only a teacher’s salary. Growing our own food was a great way to make sure we all had plenty to eat and were healthy and happy. He also gave us each our own plot to take care of which was 100% our responsibility, teaching us a strong work ethic and independence. My favorite things to grow were watermelon and carrots.

When my friends would come over to play and jump on the trampoline, Dad would put a hula hoop down over a section of the garden for everyone to help weed. He got a lot of free labor from the neighborhood kids that way! He’d also pay us a penny for every potato bug we picked from the plants, teaching us the value of hard work and cooperation.

Irrigation was my favorite part of gardening, and I loved going up by the reservoir with Dad. When I was 8 years old, he put me in charge of irrigating the whole 1.25-acre garden. It was a big responsibility for someone so young, but I did it. It’s hard to imagine that now, but I didn’t think it strange at the time. It helped me to become more capable and I’m glad.

I remember that Dad had a knack for growing huge pumpkins. In 1st grade, I won a prize for bringing in the biggest pumpkin. I remember every year he would give away so many watermelons and pumpkins at the end of the season, and it really made an impression on me about the importance of sharing our abundance. Working with Dad in the garden taught me a lot about the rewards of gardening, hard work, and generosity.

Jennifer: A Family Legacy of Love & Gardening

Strawberry rhubarb pie

I come from a long line of farmers and gardeners and I learned my love of growing things from my father and his father, a farmer in Chester County, Pennsylvania. We were fortunate enough to live adjacent to my grandfather’s farm until I was 10. We spent a lot of time there playing in the creek, getting chased by geese, and looking for snapping turtles by the pond. By the time my brother and I came around, my grandfather had retired from farming but he never stopped growing things. I remember most fondly spending time with my grandfather in his garden. I remember harvesting rhubarb (and then eating my grandmother’s strawberry-rhubarb pie). I recall shucking fresh-picked corn on the back porch for dinner and shelling peas that my mom would cook in butter and milk.

As I got older, I spent time in the garden with my Dad. I was always a bit of a tomboy and would much rather play in the dirt or build things with tools than play with dolls. My dad was the “tomato guy”. He always grew the most beautiful tomatoes which was always his favorite summertime lunch; a few slices of heirloom tomato with nothing but some mayonnaise and salt and pepper.

I don’t think it ever really mattered what they were growing, it was the simple act of planting things and watching them grow that was important to them. My grandfather passed at 99 years old. He lived with my Aunt in his senior years, with whom he insisted on growing a garden of some sort every year. At the age of 90, he would ride a 4-wheeler ATV out to check on the garden every day. At 84, my father continues to have a beautiful garden where he still grows lots of tomatoes.

My husband had a gardener father as well. In his later years, he liked to plant in our garden. He always planted garlic every fall. He passed away a couple of years ago, but we are still growing garlic from the bulbs he planted for us. This year, I have 8 beautiful raised beds, where my husband and I are growing squash, strawberries, asparagus, and his father’s garlic and I’m growing 3 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, I know my dad would love them!

Derek: Garden Lessons & Mischief

Strawberry plants

My Dad loved to garden and ours was fairly good sized, and just like Jason’s family, everyone had their own plot to take care of. There was a soda pop bottling place nearby, and if you maintained your plot and kept it weeded, Dad would reward you with a 6 pack of soda at the end of the week. I don’t know if I ever got a whole 6 pack, but I do remember it being a great reward!

A friend of mine was growing strawberries and told me that they would spread everywhere and keep other plants out. I thought that was a great idea, so I decided to grow strawberries to save myself the trouble of weeding my plot. Strawberries took over everyone’s garden. My Dad wasn’t too happy about my clever scheme and removed them himself to save the garden. That was the end of my career as a strawberry farmer.

My Dad had a rhubarb plant that he took great care of. I wasn’t too fond of eating rhubarb, so when it was my turn to mow, I’d mow it down to the ground. Dad would get absolutely furious; I can still see him now. That memory of making mischief is a happy one today. We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot from my Dad and his love of gardening.

As Father’s Day approaches, we’re glad to take some time to appreciate the Dads in our lives and the lessons they’ve taught us – both in the garden and in life. Let’s pass on the love of gardening to future generations, just as our Dads did for us.

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