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Claire Black: The Gift of My Backyard Garden (OGT Intergenerational Series - Essay #5)

At OneGreenThing, one of our goals is to stop talking AT younger generations and to encourage everyone to listen TO younger generations, from 20-something Millennials to Gen Z and Gen Alpha, the generations who will inherit the Earth. As part of our countdown to the release of our CEO & Founder Heather's debut book, One Green Thing: Discover Your Hidden Power to Help Save the Planet, we are releasing a series of essays by members of Gen Z. We are so grateful for their willingness to share their stories and lend their voices to the mission of "saving our sanity & the planet."

By Claire Black

If you were to ask elementary school me what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have responded with “a dancer teacher marine biologist farmer”.

It made my mom laugh every time that her 9-year-old had decided to tack on “farmer” to the end, but little me was determined.

When I was 8, my mom decided to start a garden in our backyard. It was small, only 2 garden boxes. I was put to work filling the boxes with dirt, raking them out, and planting all of the seeds.

An 8 -year-old me did not appreciate having to work in the dirt in the southern summer heat, and she certainly did not understand why this was worth her time.

She understood a few weeks later.

The seeds began to sprout, and soon we had 2 garden boxes brimming with our own plants. We seemed to be drowning in the plethora of green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and melons that we had grown. I was able to watch my plants grow, and felt the satisfaction in knowing that the food I was eating was from my own yard, that I had helped it grow.

About a year later, my mom decided she wanted to add a flower garden to our backyard, and so we did. On top of the produce we grow, we now grow zinnias and sunflowers along our fence.

Now, not only was I able to see what we could grow to feed ourselves, I was able to witness firsthand the beauty that we could grow as well. What started out as dirt and small seeds turned into works of art we displayed all over our house.

The reason a younger version of myself was so determined to become a farmer was because she saw the beauty that our earth could create with her own eyes. She had worked and tended to the plants as if they were her pet, and she had seen the benefits come in tenfold.

She saw what the earth provided for us, and just how beautiful it could be.

While sweating on a farm isn't quite what I have in mind for myself now, I am grateful for my tiny backyard garden for being one of the first to show me how invaluable our planet truly is.

Intern Claire Black is a recent graduate of Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


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