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Cultivating Hope

By Jim Longstreet, Master Gardener

As COVID-19 has turned our world upside-down, here are some important reasons why now is the most excellent time to plant a vegetable garden:

1. We need an infusion of hope. No one who plants a garden does so without hope.

2. Social distancing gives us a lot of time to use in some way. Planting and overseeing a garden is a very constructive and productive use of time.

3. Our bodies need vitamin D to (among other reasons) fight viruses. Getting outside under the sun is a God-given and time-proven way to get it.

4. The shelves are temporarily bare at most stores. A way to ensure our access to healthy food in the future is to grow our own right outside our back door.

5. My mom grew a “Victory Garden” during WWII. We are presently at war with this virus and a great way to proclaim early victory and live in hope is to plant seeds of hope that will strengthen us for eventual victory.

6. I really need a Gethsemane, meaning a place to pray where I can sense God’s presence. A beautiful place of color and diversity and life bursting forth is a vegetable garden. It is my Gethsemane and I offer to you such a wonderful place which is just in time for Easter. Resurrection and transformation are coming. We can pave the way by prayerfully planting seeds of hope.

7. We need a different tact today. In this “throw-away-culture” as we so easily dispose of anything that we want to separate ourselves from, a good garden requires a very different tact -- composting. Instead of trashing our unwanted grass cuttings, leaves and unsalted table scraps, we can turn them into black gold to enrich our gardens. All it takes is time, heat, and water (rainwater is best). And while we are gardening, we can take our anxiety and fears that we would like to dispose of, and instead we can turn them into a constructive motivation to grow vegetables, inner peace, and hope. It takes time, some heat, and the One who sends the rain.

God can indeed “…prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemy,” and while partnering with God we can plant a garden in the face of COVID-19. That garden can cultivate hope in our neighborhoods and in our world.

If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at and


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