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My children will know where their food comes from. The convenience of a grocery store allows our society to get practically any type of food any time of year. If my children want an apple in January or pumpkin pie in May, I can find some at the grocery store. The convenience of the grocery store allows us to get pre-packaged frozen meals that can be heated in seconds and eaten in minutes. We can ignore the people who labored for low wages, the methods that damaged ecosystems, and the miles the food was transported because it looks so pretty on the shelf. But my children will know that their food does not come from a grocery store. At a restaurant, we can get food cooked to order. We do not sow nor reap nor cook nor clean. We just say what we want, and it comes. If it does not come fast enough, we complain and maybe even get a discount because of poor service. My children will know that their food does not come from a restaurant.

Today, we planted some seeds. Outside, it is cold for the middle of March (25 degrees) and the ground is covered in snow, so we planted the tiny broccoli seeds inside in small pots. My children are only 8 and 5, but they have done this before so they know what will happen. Some of the seeds will sprout in a week or so. Some will not. We will keep them watered and make sure they have plenty of light once they sprout. As they grow, we will transfer some of them to larger pots as we wait for the snow to melt and the ground to warm. Together, we will work the thawed ground and add some compost from last year’s table scraps and lawn debris. By the beginning of May, we will transplant the broccoli plants into our well-prepared garden. We will work in the garden nearly every day: weeding, watering, protecting plants from late-season freezes. Some of the plants may be munched by animals or stunted in their growth, but careful attention will allow most of them to mature. On a warm June evening, I will ask one of my children to cut some fresh broccoli from the garden, and we will steam it for dinner.

Why do we go through this tedious process when we could simply buy the broccoli at the grocery store or order it from a restaurant? It may be true that fresh vegetables are extremely healthy and that gardening saves a little money, but my wife and I think there is more at stake. We want our children to know where their food comes from. We want them to ponder the mystery of the seed. Though small, it has the potential to grow into great plants that provide food, shade, and oxygen to breathe (Mark 4:30-32). Faith as small as the tiniest seed has great power (Luke 17:6). Even though we labor to create a hospitable environment for the seed to grow, it is ultimately out of our control, growing as we sleep or wake, wait patiently or fret (Mark 4:26-29). The seed reminds us that the first task of the human was “to till the garden and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). We can learn great lessons from the seed.

In a place where we can choose any food we want at any time of the year, the seed reminds us that resources are limited. In a place where we are taught to demand quick satisfaction and tardiness is punished, the seed teaches us to be patient. In a place where getting food is as easy as ordering from the menu or grabbing a can from the shelf, the seed cries out that cultivating food requires hard work. In a place where we are encouraged to elude time and cheat death, the seed demonstrates that all must return to the ground. In a place where the earth is exploited, the seed insists that we are part of creation. Plant a seed. Plant a whole bunch of seeds. It may be that some shrivel up or get choked by weeds, but others will bear fruit in abundance.