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Keeping Growing


I was in a tattoo chair recently. I was having an old tattoo covered up. Before you judge me either way. Whether you're thinking, "Oh no, she has tattoos? How disappointing." Or "She has tattoos? How cool." I'm not opposed to tattoos, but I'm most definitely not interested in them for myself. You see, my original piece was done when I was 21 years old. Back then, this artistic vision represented something that stirred in my soul. Freedom. So naturally I permanently imprinted it's symbolism onto my skin. And because I only had $40 to spend, it was done very poorly. At the time, I didn't care. There it was. A basic bird flying away from a spaceship (it was supposed to be a bird cage). But there it was. My message. My motto. Who I was. A young woman, spreading her wings. Desperately chasing freedom.


At 37 years old, freedom still drums in my soul. Now, I have freedom permanently imprinted in my soul. I don't feel the need to have it as a declaration on my skin anymore. Unfortunately, I found out to have it removed would be very expensive and extremely painful with several sessions involved and a long recovery. Alas, the next best option was to cover it up. So, I did. Thanks to an insanely talented female Christian tattoo artist, I no longer have a basic cartoon bird but now have a beautiful mama sparrow. Just like the ones that live in the trees beside our chicken coop. And the "spaceship" has been replaced with a garden basket of medicinal flowers. It's a beautiful tattoo for an "old" lady like me.


As Donna was finishing up my tattoo, she asked me what I would have told my 21 year old self. I asked her to clarify. About my tattoo? Or about life in general? But my answer was simple..."Girl, you know nothing." We laughed and agreed we knew very little in our twenties. Then I added, "And keep going. Life keeps getting better. It gets heavier, too. Much heavier. But with Jesus, it's not as hard to carry it all."


Oddly enough, I thought about our conversation again this week as I went to the shed out back to find over half my seeds had been ravaged by a critter. I could have cried over spilled seeds. I could have given up on my garden. Yet, I didn't beat myself up for keeping seeds in an open container in an outdoor shed like a dumb-dumb. Instead, I started planning. "First mental note: never store the seeds like that ever again". I laid out the seed packets that survived the savage mouse. I made a list of what was lost. I purchased more seeds from my favorite seed company, Bucktown Seed Co. I reached out to a friend and master holistic gardener for her advice on how to start seeds indoors. As this was not something necessary back in Mississippi with the long growing season. So I asked a dozen questions and jotted down notes.


I read articles on how to make a good seed starting mix. I watched youtube videos on different composting methods. Deciding on a stall method. My husband and I gathered up enough scrap wood to build a proper compost area and had luckily already built up a good amount of compost accidentally in a burn pit we'd been utilizing for several months. We then walked the property as the sun began to set, and planned out where we would double the garden this year. We made plans to build a wooden trellis for our massive muscadine vine we inherited. Imagining our boys running through a tunnel of green leaves and sampling the muscadines as they played.


We plotted out a melon patch and more rows of corn in hopes to feed our family, friends and neighbors chemical-free sweet corn. We found the perfect spot for a medicinal garden and another former flower bed near the house will be a kitchen herb garden. Then we stood in the 25x40 garden we started last June. (Far too late to plant. But anxious to grow our own food.) Remembering all of our mistakes. My mistakes, really. I remember I rushed it. It was late in the growing season. But I wanted the garden immediately. During what was most certainly a chaotic season. I was unpacking boxes, working on projects to update a 30 year old house, still mourning the loss of our beloved dog, trying to desperately get my sourdough starter going, figuring out a new home-school routine, acquiring chickens and just getting adjusted to a whole new life out in the country.


I made a lot of mistakes. But I did it. I started it. Even though it was too late to grow much of anything. I learned quite a bit. Where to plant what. Where not to plant. What thrived. What didn't. I learned that North Carolina has a shorter growing season. That meant better planning and preparation. I learned about our soil. About the insects and rodents that wreck havoc here. I learned that watermelons can grow on a trellis but they're better protected under their large leaves in a patch. I learned to be more patient when harvesting the luffahs. I learned to plant the potatoes in looser soil. I learned sweet potatoes need morning sun. I learned the strawberries have to be fiercely protected from the greedy birds. I learned you have to water your garden here. (It doesn't rain in North Carolina nearly as much as it did in Mississippi.)


Most importantly I learned I have to make our garden holy. I have to pray over every step. Over every moment. Over every plant. Over the land. I have to glorify God as I grow this food and medicine. I have to plan and prepare. I have to start small. I have to be patient. I have to take great care. I have to tend to my garden this year. I have to put my heart and soul into this. The amount of what I want to grow, will take a miracle. Last year was my practice garden. I started it, failed to produce much, but learned a great deal from my mistakes. This year will be my faith garden. I already have my whole heart in it. Ready to plant my first seed on the new moon. Officially a bonafide compost nerd. And I hope next year I will be able to call it my freedom garden. Where our garden's success will be measured by our family's sovereignty.


If you're just starting your seeds or behind on your planning or not growing food at all this Spring, don't get discouraged. If you want to grow your own food, but feel you can't. Because maybe you don't have the land. I say, grow what you can. Even if you live in an apartment. It's possible. Maybe you're renting a home. If your landlord allows, grow some food anyway and consider it your practice garden for the acres God will bless you with some day soon. Or maybe you're in a busy or hard season. Buy your produce locally if you can find it. Maybe ask a friend who has wild plans to grow a bunch of food if you can barter for some of their produce. I bet they'll say yes. I know I'll happily take some honey or milk or sourdough loaves for something from my garden. Lord knows I won't have the capacity to do it all. Do what you can. And what you can't, be joyful for friends and neighbors who you need and may need you at some point. But whatever you do, keep planting seeds. Keep tending your garden. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep praying. Keep holding on to hope. Keep moving. Keep going. It will get better. It will get easier. Until then, my friend, hang on to Jesus.


~Casey G.

Owner & Shopkeeper


Ecclesiastes 11:6

1 Corinthians 3:7

Isaiah 61:11

Isaiah 5:13





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