The Spiritual Satisfaction of Freely Gardening | Sojourners

The Spiritual Satisfaction of Freely Gardening

“Our little farm joins other plots of liberation, places of healing for people and the land itself.” 
A black woman in a white dress with long dark brown hair smiles while dancing with her elderly mother on a porch, who's wearing a black t-shirt and jeans. A man in a black t-shirt plays music in the background with a laptop and speaker on a table.
Pandora Thomas and her mother, Frances Thomas, at EARTHSeed Farm in California. / Devin Ariel / Mahogany Visions

“DO YOU MAKE any money from it?” a visitor asked as we walked behind my house, where goats, chickens, fruits, and vegetables grow among the weeds. I shook my head and laughed.

We entered the garden where my 74-year-old father knelt, breaking up soil with an old cultivating fork. He was planting spindly tomato plants I had started from seed and almost abandoned.

We don’t make money from it, but the garden is the place where my father cultivates joy. When I was a child, he poured water on rows of collards to wash away stressful days working for a Washington, D.C., nonprofit. Gardening restores his soul. These days, Dad splits his time between my parents’ home in Ohio and my home in rural Georgia, planting gardens in both places.

We don’t weigh the bushels of okra, cantaloupe, peppers, watermelon, and beans to see if they equal or surpass expenditures of time or money spent on Dad’s trips down South. Some work can’t be measured in dollars.

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The cover for Sojourners' August 2023 issue, called "The Paradox of Poverty." Small figurines of a white couple in fancy garbs stand on top of a tall stack of silver and gold coins. There are other figurines below working by carrying around dollar bills.
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