I got a chance to discuss the progress we’ve made on our gardens project with my Grandpa a few days before writing this, and I could see the joy in his eyes as he realized the impact he had made in my life and in the inspiration of this project.
You see, my Grandpa is very sick with cancer and will most likely not live to see our trip to Rwanda in July, but his legacy will live on through the food and help that the gardens will provide.
Let me step back a bit…
Big City Living
I grew up in La Porte, TX in southeast Houston amongst the oil refineries, the smog, and the ship channel. We lived on a 1/4 acre cul-de-sac lot in a suburban neighborhood. The fun seemed to always be outside when I was a kid, but we never strayed far from our yards or the nearby street. Our food was purchased at the local Gerland’s or Krogers supermarket chains. It was “big city” living, for sure.
However, almost every year during my childhood we made a trip to visit my grandparents, Dewey and Gloria Overbey, in rural Illinois . The city of Rockbridge, population 250, was our home for the week. The kids slept in the basement and we quickly learned that you never flushed the toilet while someone was taking a shower (if you’ve heard the screams, you know what I’m talking about!).
Small Town Living
We rode bikes on dirt roads, fished in the creek, hunted, and played game after game of wiffle ball. We listened to the St Louis Cardinals baseball game on the radio every night in front of the house. It was “small town” living, for sure.
We grew up doing this every year so the culture shock wore off more quickly as time went on. It was a cherished time and it certainly broadened my sister’s, my cousins, and my horizons.
The center of our world while in Rockbridge was my grandparent’s garden. Grandpa was a fantastic gardener. In fact, we (his grandkids) believed him to be the world’s best. It was a full time job picking and processing all of the bounty of his relatively small garden. Corn on the cob, green beans, carrots, strawberries, turnips, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. It was incredible.
Every single year there were weeks on end that their nine tomato plants would produce more than 200 ripe tomatoes every day. Buckets of green beans and potatoes were processed daily. We toiled in and around the garden for hours. We learned that food tastes far better straight from the ground than from the shelf.
We were incredibly proud of Grandpa and his garden. I learned a lot. He taught me that a garden with the right knowledge, good soil, the necessary tools and equipment, and a strong work ethic could produce more than one family needs.
With the excess that his garden provided, my Grandpa gave to those in need. The elderly and the less fortunate counted on my grandpa to help them get by. He never sold his excess, even though it was worth a considerable amount of money. God was providing through his garden. I think it just didn’t seem right for him to charge others for what God had so freely provided.
My grandfather showed me that gardens were a solution to the hungry. Not the only solution, but a solution.
And now through an unexpected path, God has led me to build gardens for refugee families in Rwanda. Through my Grandpa, God provided a spark for a project that will provide relief for those in need.
My grandfather’s legacy will continue on through his ability to provide, his love for his family (especially my Grandma!!!), his caring for others, his kindness, and his influence on his kids and grandkids. God is using all of this to provide for the people of Kageyo.
Glory to God for bringing joy and peace to my Grandpa. Glory to Him for bringing sustainable gardens to the people of Kageyo.
Written by Craig Haley, KGP Team Member
Learn more about Craig and the rest of the team on our Meet the Team page!