I’ve never kept it a secret how much my dad and his garden have inspired me and my garden. Therefore, when I saw that Corona Tools was sponsoring a Fathers Day Giveaway which involved writing and posting a picture, I jumped on it right away. I knew I already had the picture ready because I had scanned and used it for the Kitchen Garden talk that I gave in April. I had the words ready, too, because I have said them so often. In fact, I have already given my father credit for inspiring my gardening right here on the About Me page of this blog. Normally, I would sit and think and write and rewrite for a long time before submitting a contest entry. But in this case, I wrote and entered it right away. I submitted my entry so quickly, in fact, that I was unable at first to upload my photo. I learned later that I was the first one to submit my story and let Corona Tools know that the “submit photo” button was not on the form. That should tell you how eager I was to share my father’s garden!
Above is the picture I submitted, and here is what I wrote:
I grew up on the north side of Chicago in a two-flat on an average size city lot. My dad, however, had grown up on a farm in Ukraine, and he never let the size of our lot thwart his desire to grow as many fresh vegetables as possible. He even used the 6-inch strip of dirt under the fence between our walk and the neighbor’s for planting onion sets! Meanwhile, I would tease him about how the patch of grass in our yard grew smaller every year while his garden grew bigger. But now as an adult I’ve become quite the gardener myself with 375 square feet of raised beds where I grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Growing food was the first thing I wanted to do when I began gardening because that was what my father had done when I was a child. No one was more surprised than my dad was by how much his gardening had inspired me.
And that’s my gardening inspiration story in a nutshell. By the end of his life on earth, Dad was asking ME questions about gardening! In fact, I had the privilege of planting his last garden for him. My brother-in-law and a nephew plowed and added compost to the strip of land behind his house. I drove out there one day and planted all the seedlings he had chosen.
After that, my dad would sit for many hours a day and just watch his garden grow. I learned from him that a garden does not have to be filled with flowers and ornamentals to be beautiful. There is great beauty in cucumbers curling their vines up a chain link fence in a city backyard. There is a satisfying sense of abundance in watching tomato plants slowly stretch higher and higher as they poke out new leaves and eventually blossoms and then swelling fruit. There is a relaxing feeling of great peace when seeing green things grow and reproduce to feed the earth. How wonderful that we as gardeners get to take part in and watch closely this ongoing miracle of life that God created!
If you read this post before 6/17/12, Fathers Day, and are on Facebook, you could help me win that Corona Tools contest by going to this link and liking or commenting on it: Debbie’s Fathers Day Giveaway contest entry. And if it is past that date already when you read this post, you might still be able to go to that link and read the wonderful comments it received from my friends, family, and total strangers.
Gardening was only one facet–and not even the brightest–of my amazing father’s life. His name was Peter Slobodian, but he was also known to many as Pyotr Antonovich Slobodian and as Pedro Slobodián as he lived on three different continents during his lifetime. He taught me far more than a love of gardening. In fact, he led me and many, many others around the world to to know and love our Heavenly Father. If you would like to know more about Peter Slobodian, you could watch this slide presentation at the website of the mission board (BIEM) he founded: A Pictorial History of Dr. Peter and Mary Slobodian. And if you would like to learn even more than that about what God did through his life, then you could read the book that BIEM has published: Giving God the Glory: Dr Peter Slobodian Biography.
My dad and his garden have inspired not only my gardening efforts but also some of my dabbling in art. When I had an assignment in a community college drawing class a few years ago (2006) to do a collage, I based mine on my dad and his garden. My oil pastel drawing included renderings of three photographs from different phases of Dad’s life, the two photographs in this post above plus one of him walking across the field on his family’s farm in Argentina.
Here are closeups of each component of that drawing for anyone who would like to get a better look at the details.