Joyceline Poole-Dudley shares her testimony.
The Lord blessed Ephesus Junior Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., with Opal Lattimore, who moved to Jacksonville to be with her son and his family.
Lattimore operated a successful community garden in Tampa, Fla., for years before moving to Jacksonville. This move brought a wonderful community service project to the children at Ephesus Junior Academy. After much prayer and research, a program was established for the school, and each week Lattimore would meet with the classes to teach the proper techniques of growing, maintaining, and harvesting a home or community garden. As the children learned about gardening, they loved it. Planting gave the children joy and satisfaction because they were able to take home to their families what they planted, which was exciting.
Little did I not know that Lattimore volunteering at the school would help me personally during a time of need; planting vegetables and adopting healthy eating habits became a practice that would get me through the unforeseen pandemic that was to come.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools suddenly closed, and as an administrator, I, like all other educators, had to continue school virtually. Communities shut down, and people were encouraged to stay home. This closure encouraged creative ways to develop untapped talents and personal hobbies, and spend quality family time with each other so as to not lose our minds.
It was then that I got the idea to test my green thumb and start a small vegetable garden at my home. I called Lattimore, and she excitedly helped me get started. I ordered six raised garden boxes and was ready to start my spring garden. I planted squash, zucchini, string beans, corn, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, and bell peppers, and to my surprise, I loved every minute of it. As my garden expanded so did my harvest of fresh, organic vegetables. It produced so much that we could not eat it all, and we shared our harvest blessings with family and friends.
My love for nature returned and I enjoyed getting out of the house and into my garden every day. Soon my newfound hobby became a family activity, which included my two daughters. My oldest daughter, Kristen, encouraged me to create a YouTube channel to show how easy it was to start an organic garden from scratch, right in your backyard, while sharing my gardening tips with family, friends, the community, and the world.
I was hesitant at first; then something unexpected and wonderful happened. It quickly became bonding time for us. My daughter patiently and lovingly began coaching and recording me in the garden. Her research and guidance taught me how and what to say every time we recorded, and how to share it on social media. Our final task was to name my garden, so after much thought and prayer, Resha’s Garden was born.
You know the popular hymn, “I Come to the Garden Alone”? Well, each morning and evening that I water my garden, I find myself in sweet communion with God as I sing and talk to my plants. I understand better now what Ellen White was talking about in the book Prophets and Kings, chapter 2, page 51, which tells us this, “They [Adam and Eve] held converse with leaf and flower and tree, gathering from each the secrets of its life.” It is my joy and pleasure to meet with Jesus every day in my garden.
Southeastern | August 2022