In March of 2020, I spent the evening in my New York apartment packing as many things as I could into my suitcase. I had purchased a one-way ticket back to Hawaii and didn’t know when I’d return. After arriving at home and having to find new ways to entertain myself, I bought some soil and seeds, read up on gardening, and started planting. For fun, I gave myself two rules:  Everything must be grown from seeds and  The garden would eventually need to be self-sufficient (I would be composting for fertilizer and my plants would be producing their own seeds). It started off as a simple hobby, but now a year since I started my garden, I’ve grown over 75 pounds of vegetables, including bok choy, sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, soybeans and various herbs.
I’ve realized that in the world we live in, it’s increasingly rare to have any connection with where our food comes from. Now I can appreciate how long it takes for my plants to grow from seed, to sprout, to vegetable. In reflecting over the past few months, I’ve thought about how the technological advancements of the last 260 years have allowed us to become more efficient, but we seem to have lost something in the process.
I’m the first one to recognize that I’m too “plugged-in” to technology. I love efficiency and maximizing every hour of my day. Gardening is not efficient. It’s a much more efficient use of my time to go to the supermarket and buy vegetables that were shipped over to Hawaii in a refrigerated container. Sustainability has always been important to me and having food sent from thousands of miles away is not efficient for our planet. Over the past year, I’ve found that digging my hands into the soil to grow even just a few vegetables from seed is not only a step towards sustainability, but also meditative, enjoyable and fun!
I started tracking, weighing and entering data into a spreadsheet in August of 2020. It quickly became clear that bok choy was the easiest and quickest growing crop. I haven’t recovered my costs (and may never), but you can’t put a price on having a fresh produce department right outside your front door!
Since the day I bought that first kit of seeds, I haven’t stopped gardening. I’ve made various improvements over the past few months, including adding a green compost pile and vermicomposting bin, to turn our food waste into fertilizer. More recently, I’ve installed a smart watering system, which will automatically water my plants when it hasn’t rained.
In my leisure time, I might be working, (virtually) hanging out with my friends, reading a book, or listening to a webinar, but you also may find me harvesting my vegetables, or planting new ones. It’s freeing and rewarding, and it’s unlikely I’ll be giving up this new hobby anytime soon.