When Blessed, Share Your Good Fortune

I love to garden. I’m not sure my family even understands the reasons why I spend so much time tending the backyard crops. It’s not (entirely) to get away. But it is some quality “me” time after work and on weekends.

Whether gardening can save you money is often a topic of debate at my house in the spring. This is because my return on investment largely depends on what I grow and, to a lesser extent, the weather and pestilence.

My garden is doing well this year. I planted tomatoes (Cherokee purple, Roma and beefsteak), peppers
(Anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, tabasco, sugar rush peach, habanero and purple, orange, green and chocolate bells) as well as herbs (basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, chives, thyme, dill and oregano).

For some reason, my squash, cucumbers and long beans suffered from a failure to thrive, so I cleared them out to make room for my fall/winter garden.

To date, I know I’ve broken even, with a few months of heavy production remaining. That means my wife is happy about the healthy P & L.

I also garden for my health. A diet rich in vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet can reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and may even protect against certain cancers – that’s what I tell myself as I’m eating cauliflower. Consuming vegetables instead of high-calorie food helps cut total calories, too.

I know that my vegetables are pesticide-free and picked at their peak of freshness. I even make my own compost that goes back into the soil.

I also garden for exercise. Holding the hose is no real effort, but weeding focuses my muscles on stretching, posture, repetitive motion and even resistance principles similar to those in weight training. Gardening doesn’t burn 20,000 calories, but I bet I hit 200 calories an hour.

My favorite reason for gardening is social. I like to share the bounty with friends and neighbors. I’ve helped others design raised beds and address gardening challenges.

On a job interview I once was asked, “If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be and why?” No generic oak, maple or blue spruce for me. I immediately answered, “A fruit tree.” I was asked to clarify my answer to which I replied, “A peach tree.”

Growing up, my parents planted two peach trees in the backyard. Nothing happened the first few years, and, then one spring we had the first hint of peaches. Each year the crop got bigger, then there’d be an off year when insects or disease would hinder fruit production. When we had a big year, I’d pick the peaches and put an equal amount in paper lunch sacks. I’d write the names of each of our neighbors on the sacks and deliver them door-to-door.

We were blessed with more than we needed, so we shared our good fortune with our friends. That lesson has stayed with me for more than 50 years. That lesson is also why I support the Tulsa Area United Way.

Because the TAUW raises funds that go directly to local services, hundreds of thousands of lives are touched, changed and even saved through area contributions. And dollars raised in our community stay in our community to help build a better place for us all to live, work and raise our families.

The Broken Arrow Senior Center is one of 59 partner agencies supported by the Tulsa Area United Way. We receive much-needed yearly funding from TAUW. The United Way also provides information technology in the form of hardware, software, database, website and ongoing support of all these systems. It is impossible to assign a dollar amount to these services.

I know the TAUW saves the BA Senior Center thousands of dollars yearly, making it possible for the Center to be accessible and affordable to seniors in our area. In this respect, the Center and the United Way truly are partners.

Each year we honor that partnership by helping the United Way help us. Rather than just setting out jars to collect your loose change over the next few months, you will hear more about how the United Way impacts not just your life through the Center but how the organization impacts the lives of thousands of Oklahomans.

Being blessed with more than we needed is truly the lesson I learned 50 years ago when passing out those bags of peaches.

If you feel blessed and would like to support the TAUW financially or through volunteering, please stop in the office.