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The Best Fruit

Last week, while harvesting tomatoes from one of our hydroponic towers, I had an epiphany. As I climbed a stepladder and crouched down under a jungle of tomato plants to find the ripe fruit, it struck me how much the act of growing and harvesting mirrors life. 

It starts with proper planning. Giving each plant enough space to grow and flourish is a big deal. And as I recently learned, regular pruning will make room for the remaining plants to be their healthiest. I have to make sure the timer is always on the right setting. I have to be careful to not dislodge the tubes that carry nutrient water to our towers and the cords that supply power for the pumps. If I accidentally pull one out and don’t notice in time, I can potentially lose an entire tower of produce or cause flooding in the garden. There’s regular maintenance that has to be performed as well. Every Tuesday morning I use an organic spray to ward off unwelcome pests and diseases.

When it comes to harvesting, my ladder needs to be stable and my footing secure. I often have to stretch out and pull aside parts of the plant to be able to see the produce that’s ready to be picked. And if I’m not paying close attention, I can miss some of the best fruit, leaving it on the vine to rot. Or worse, I can end up in a heap on the ground three feet below. 

All of farming is a metaphor, I’m finding. I didn’t grow up on a farm, so I’m often amazed at the life lessons I’m learning while caring for the plants and animals at Purdon Groves. 

Our lives take some planning, setting up the environment that’s best for growth. We can have too many activities and too many projects and our lives become crowded and messy - a jungle, even. Sometimes we need to cut some things out of our lives in order to be healthier individuals. We also have to be mindful of our surroundings, keeping an eye out for things that can trip us up. Otherwise, there can be unpleasant consequences. This can be true whether we’re interacting with family and friends, preparing to move or starting a new hobby. Sometimes we have to stretch, which can lead to feeling uncomfortable and off balanced. But often it’s when we’re in the most awkward, vulnerable, and painful postures that we are rewarded with the most growth. 

Personally, I can look back and see situations where if I hadn’t opened myself up to being vulnerable or pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I might never have reached the best opportunities for growth. How about you? 

This piece was first published in Sherry Asbury Clark’s column, “Finding Myself in a Small Town,” in the 11/07/20 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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