Preserving Family Legacy Through a Vegetable Garden

Monticello Shop's Heirloom Seed Packet Box, perfect for preserving family history.
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*Disclosure: I am being compensated by the Monticello Shop for this post, however the thoughts and personal stories are all my own.*

Starting a family legacy with a starter vegetable garden!

It’s interesting how our childhoods, even from an early age, map out who we are for the rest of our lives. The things we do and see…the ways we bond with our family…although we may not realize that they shape us into who we are us adults, it really sets up the mold for who we become! Having recently started this blog to share my passion for clean eating and all-natural living with the world, it got me thinking about my own roots. How did I end up becoming so passionate about natural foods? Why do I have such a love for produce, and knowing where my food comes from?

And although I hadn’t previously sat down to reflect upon these questions, once I did the answer was clear: It’s because of my Grandpa! My grandpa was an amazing man, who had the life experiences of ten men. He had served in the army, was a doctor, lived in the countryside, and also in the bigger, bustling area of Southern California. One of his biggest passions was gardening. When I was young, he had a huge vegetable garden, and basically worked full-time tending to it during his retirement. He had so much passion and pride vested into his garden, and I remember playing in it as a child felt so magical and beautiful.

A monarch butterfly in my grandpa's garden--what did I tell you? Magical!

With so many different vegetables laid out in a grid in his garden, it felt like a chapter book: cohesive, yet each individual piece told a different, unique part of an enchanting story. The tangelo trees had a sweet smell, and provided cool shade on a hot summer day–its leaves creating a dazzling pattern on the ground below. The herb garden also smelled amazing, and looked so green and lush that I was always tempted to pick from it and eat parsley plucked directly from the ground as a snack.

My grandpa working diligently in his greenhouse

The root vegetables, like carrots or potatoes were exciting to me–being a young child and not able to read the labels in the garden, I stared at the soil the produce was burried under, excited for picking day to find out what vegetables had been growing beneath the earth. Picking the vegetables meant exciting foods would be cooked for dinner, an ever-changing menu depending on the season and what was ripe. Preparing dinner meant family bonding time. There was nothing quite like making lemonade from lemons you picked yourself, constantly tasting it until you found the perfect sweet & sour combination till I could serve it to my family with pride. Sitting next to my grandpa outside with dozens and dozens of Lima beans and buckets, working diligently to de-shell them, all the while sampling some raw, while others went in buckets for cooking.

My grandpa shelling beans

My grandpa shelling beans

Perhaps these moments–moments of working with my hands paired with family story-telling, moments of playing pretend in a garden most could only picture in their dreams–these are the moments that have shaped me to crave produce, to crave cooking and entertaining, to want more than anything to tell stories with my food with the world.

Earlier this year, my grandpa passed away at the age of 94, still sharp as a tack and brilliant as ever. With his passing, I am wanting to re-create a new garden in memory of him, and to continue the legacy of his greatest joy. Although people may no longer be in our lives, their legacy can still be preserved through seeds. Seeds have an amazing therapeutic quality, as they persevere–they can be planted, thrive, picked, and re-planted to yield once again.

Of course, to get started on my garden I needed some seeds. Since this garden was going to be quite an exciting and emotional project for me, I wanted to make sure I got very high-quality seeds from a reputable source. I decided that this seed packet box with Heirloom Seeds was perfect for what I was wanting to accomplish: preserve my grandpa’s legacy:

I am someone who always likes to hold onto family memories and store family keepsakes. I thought this heirloom seed box from the Monticello Shop would be perfect, not only because they contained a wide variety of seeds, but because the box itself would serve as the perfect place to keep photos and other trinkets I have from my grandpa. I have many handwritten notes from him, some whistles, and other things he received small joys from that I haven’t had a great place to keep. With this cedar seed box, I have a safe place to preserve these delicate keepsakes, and since it’s see-through I can display these memories rather than have them tucked away and forgotten.

The seeds in the box have some not-so-common items, which really intrigued me. My grandpa always loved learning about new information, and was fond of learning about uncommon crops and produce (i.e. he had to be a little different and have a tangelo tree instead of a run-of-the-mill orange tree). The seeds in the box are: Long Red Cayenne Pepper, Yellow Pear Tomato, Cherokee Purple Tomato, Paris White Cos Lettuce, Long Green Improved Cucumber, Scarlet Runner Bean, White Eggplant, Bullnose Pepper, Rouge Demi-Longue de Chantenay Carrot and Early Curled Siberian Kale.

I definitely want to cook and prepare food using my grandpa’s legacy garden, so having a wide variety of seeds such as this was important to me–it will allow me to make nearly endless vegetarian menu options!

seed-packet-box-with-heirloom-seeds-202

Long Red Cayenne Pepper, Yellow Pear Tomato, Cherokee Purple Tomato, Paris White Cos Lettuce, Long Green Improved Cucumber, Scarlet Runner Bean, White Eggplant, Bullnose Pepper, Rouge Demi-Longue de Chantenay Carrot and Early Curled Siberian Kale

What was also important to me about this particular seed box was that it had historical roots! Another wonderful aspect of my grandpa was his love and in-depth knowledge of America’s history, and his giving heart. He thought that Williamsburg, Pennslyvania was the most wonderful place, so rich with our country’s history. These seeds are actually from the Monticello Shop, which is on Thomas Jefferson’s 5,000-acre plantation. The Monticello plantation is still operating today as a nonprofit, striving to preserve history and educate. I know that if my grandpa had found out about this seed box, and how it has historical ties to Jefferson’s plantation, and is contributing to this historical legac, he would be so excited!

Knowing that the produce yielded from these seeds are from Jefferson’s land, and that I’m using those seeds to continue my grandpa’s legacy is the perfect way to remember him by. My daughter, only 18 months old, will get to enjoy and cook with me the produce we grow together, and I’ll know her great-grandpa would be proud. I’ll know, that through the magic of a little seed, I will create her best childhood memories!

To purchase the Monticello Heirloom seeds and cedar box, you can visit this link: http://fmtc.co/bc8d2a29?sid=47.367

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