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Seed to Seed: A Thanksgiving Story

(Photo courtesy Richard Sidy, Gardens for Humanity)

(Photo courtesy Richard Sidy, Gardens for Humanity)

Fall nights in the garden chill the remnants of summer’s harvest, marking the shift in mood to a time of gathering instead of a time of planting. The colorful scatterings of leaves foreshadow garden renewal, and make for a festive accessory to fall celebrations.

The vines of winter squash start to wilt, and we find amongst their sprawling tendrils the last fruits of a long summer. Pumpkins, of course, are at the center of Halloween, but the Thanksgiving table benefits from the nutty flavors of winter squash, from hearty soups to roasted casseroles, to pies!

Cutting open a butternut squash, we see in the cavity a handful of seeds. When we reflect that all this goodness came from just one seed planted in the spring, we touch the key to life’s abundance that has enabled our survival and enabled Nature to thrive. This evokes three main sentiments in me: gratitude, optimism, and a sense of responsibility.

These three sentiments drive my motivation for gardening, along with the feeling of co-creating with Nature. Such a collaboration that has guided humanity since our beginning, and has the potential to enable a life of peace, cooperation, and prosperity – if only humans could recognize these common, unifying gifts.

When negative news grabs our attention and burdens our spirit, we can easily lose hope. I find that going to the garden, harvesting something I grew, and then preparing a simple and elegant meal to be shared by a loved one is a healing, uplifting activity. This simple act can renew our sense of what is real in life. Chef Jamie Oliver says, “The closer you are to cooking, the happier life you have!” How much closer to cooking can one get than growing some of the ingredients?

I interpret this being “closer to cooking” as a reconnection to Nature, to our heritage, and to each other: to our Humanity. Thanksgiving is a pause for celebration on our journey from seed to seed, enabling us to explore new perspectives. It’s not just about the abundance on the holiday table, but a story of gratitude for the entire cycle of life – from the tiny seed to the bountiful harvest. Humans are part of this cycle.

Seeds and growing them touches us with the gifts inherent in Life. These build the essential foundation for successful living: diversity, adaptability, resilience, nurturing, and care. Healthy environments and societies rely on these qualities, so necessary for the life in seeds to prosper. Throughout the growing season, we watch these seeds transform into vibrant plants.

In this world of TikTok and 30-second reels, the story of seed to seed reminds us to slow down and appreciate every step of the journey. It encourages us to be mindful this Thanksgiving, and celebrate not just the harvest on our plates, but the entire tapestry of life that brought it to us, and to reflect on the interconnectedness of all life.

At Thanksgiving a lot of life is going on underground. Soil building at this time is key to preparing for spring planting. To help plan, on the Gardens for Humanity website homepage, under “Resources,” you can download a planting calendar that indicates what can be planted in our region month-by-month. Also, check out the Seed Library.

Richard Sidy is president of Gardens for Humanity, a founding member of the Sustainability Alliance and a member of the Verde Valley Food Policy Council. To reach him, email president@

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