TL grew up on her family’s farm in a small Kentucky town. The middle child of three kids, gardening was always a part of her life growing up. “We grew a large garden that we would plant, raise, and pick,” TL described. “Mom would can enough vegetables each year to get us through the fall, winter, and even into spring.” As a child, TL says she didn’t enjoy having to garden every day. “I’d much rather be chasing bugs.” But eventually, she came to enjoy the hard work, as well as appreciating the food that came as a result. “When I graduated and moved away from home, I missed the farm, and the animals, and sometimes even my family,” TL joked.
After moving to Nashville, TL eventually moved to a home she rented from an older couple in East Nashville. “The home had a large back yard, and my landlord, Mr. Huffine, had a huge garden. One day, after his tiller stopped working, I asked him if I could take a look at it. I’m sure he didn’t know at the time that I was raised on a farm, and had learned how to fix farm equipment from my dad.” After that day, TL and the Huffines became more than tenant and landlord, they became friends. And for the next 15 years, TL worked beside Mr Huffine in that backyard garden, not just growing vegetables, but learning lots of life lessons from his 93 years of life experiences. “We would work together almost every day, planting, preening, hoeing, and even more importantly, talking.”
TL says that one of the biggest joys she gets through the gardening experience is sharing the harvest with other people who needed it. She and Mr Huffine would give away tomatoes, green beans, okra, and other items to anyone who asked or who they thought might need it. We loved watching other people enjoy the work of our hands and the blessings God had given us that year,” she continued. “All the sweat, the blisters on our hands, the years of some times having to replant the garden due to climate issues, are small drops in the bucket compared to the joy your heart feels when you give it all away.
TL is a full-time nurse in the ER at a Nashville (TN) hospital. Gardening is a passion she takes seriously. “Gardening’s not for everyone, because it does take a lot of time, but if I can do it with my schedule, then anyone seriously interested in it can learn how to do it as well. It does require time management and a commitment, but the rewards of eating my own organically grown vegetables far out weigh the time and cost.”
It’s been almost a year since Mr Huffine passed away (October 2012). And TL continues to garden, growing not only vegetables, but wildflowers for Mrs Huffine, who comes by to see her and see how the garden is doing. This year, TL was even able to show the Huffine’s daughter how to plant a garden; something their daughter had always wanted to learn to do from her dad.
I’ve had a wonderful good fortune to have tasted some of these very fresh, organic veggies from TL’s garden. Hearing her story brings a somber touch to my heart. God puts people in our lives for reasons we often don’t know why, but with TL, the message is loud and clear. It a joy watching God’s work full circle – starting as a young girl wanted to chase bugs rather than garden – to where she is today. What a beautiful story of TL’s life.