The expenditure of time and effort in the garden is payment in and of itself, and the actual harvest becomes a bonus paid for diligence. Other rewards that accrue range from financial to altruistic; the financial side rarely amounts to a full repayment, especially when one considers the number of hours dedicated to planning, preparing, and pampering a garden, whereas the altruistic returns are gathered on the inside, safe from inflation and theft.
It is natural to want to protect one's investment, to make sure that the worry, the sweat, and the results are used in the most economic and practical way possible, thus keeping in step with the creation of the goods. Any abundance must be dealt with in an expeditious manner lest weather, age, or animals destroy it before its allotted purpose is fulfilled.
If there is a farmers market nearby, buyers attending always appreciate the greater selection provided. Most neighbors and friends enjoy food given to them freely, their appreciation deepened by their knowledge of your enterprise and dedication.
It is not strange or difficult to believe that sharing is an aspect of universal economy. Within each person, there is the need for a proper intent of identity expression. Donating to a food bank allows one to be charitable. Once delivered we can be allowed a sigh of satisfaction knowing that we have at least in some measure, given back, or created an allocation for someone other than ourselves. It is up to the individual to determine his personally required quota (from the Latin, quota pars, meaning "how great a part?")
When our gardens were larger, we tended to plant a lot of kale. Most people only know kale as that vile tasting, tough, and unappealing vegetable matter used as a garnish. Kale is one of those vegetables better eaten freshly picked, since the toughness and bitterness occurs within a few days.
Kale was one of the last items left on our table at the farmers market, even after offering it free and extolling its virtues of having antioxidant properties and great vitamin C content, most said, "No thank you." When there was no one else to sell or give it to, the compost welcomed it, providing excellent nutrients for next year's crops. Although, when we added it to our prepared salad mix, people began to realize how good it was if fresh.
Religious organizations and societies usually fed the less fortunate throughout history. In biblical times, gleaning was an honored method, allowing the hungry to gather whatever grains were left in fields after a harvest. In the 60's a new social conscious connection with food was publicized in the media, reporting on a group in San Francisco called the "Diggers" who fed hippies and the homeless.
An extreme form of urban gleaning is carried on today with a group called the "Freegans" - this includes dumpster diving and foraging in city parks where edibles unknown to most grow -wild sorrel, bay leaves, or the wild parsnips that grow in Brookland's Prospect Park. A less radical group called "Second Harvest" also makes use of surplus and throwaway food to feed those in need.
There is a certain ignorant uncaring that develops when one has not put his "hand to the plowshare," as it were, as to the real value of food. Humankind went through a season of insecurity before agriculture established a winter surplus, a season of sufficiency and increase through science, and now, a season of abundance that is misdirected and squandered, along with the throwaway plastic that wraps, transports, and displays out of season produce from distant countries where its own inhabitants starve for these same items.
We look for a new season of conscience, when one eats one's fill and then allots the rest to those in need. When that time arrives, we will know we have grown.