Stolen Peas – how my garden quantification project came undone


the infamous pea and strawberry thief on the prowl

I wrote this short essay for a course I took and thought I’d share it.

I grew up eating from a home garden leaving me with fond memories of standing beside the pea vines savouring their sweet taste. Tomatoes were never refrigerated and always juicy. Carrots grew beneath frilly leaves and corn grew on majestic, tree-frog infested, eight-foot-high stalks. In time, my parents assigned me my own garden plot where I planted beans and zinnias. Since then I’ve always wanted to grow my own food. A few years ago we bought our first house, and in the backyard of our urban lot, I have six large raised beds and a small coop for five hens.

I’ve morphed into an urbanite growing as much of my own food as I can. What I can’t grow I source as close to home as possible, though I still drink coffee and stock my cupboard with spices from the tropics. I’ve started quantifying the economic worth of my harvest – empirical data that feeds my scientific side. I now weigh my produce and calculate its worth based on grocery store prices. However, only a couple of months in, my experiment is already compromised. A new user of the garden has arrived on the scene.

“Mooooore,” my toddler demanded, pointing at the bed of strawberries one summer day. She had already shoved three whole berries into her mouth resulting in a red dribble down her chin. I caution her to take her time, but moments after she puts one into her mouth, she asks for another. After searching through the strawberry leaves, I couldn’t find any more ripe ones. I try to explain that more will be ripe in a few days – a concept she can’t yet comprehend. Spying a white berry with a blush of red, she tries to crawl into the bed, until I distract her with a pea pod.

No peas, strawberries, raspberries or cherry tomatoes have made it to my kitchen scale; instead they go directly into my toddler’s mouth as she wanders the garden, and she has voluntarily tried kale, nasturtiums and cilantro. Sometimes what goes into her mouth is rejected and left on the garden path, making me cringe because none of this food is making it on to my scale. Even though I can’t quantify what she is learning, I’m sure it has more value than any weight in produce. In time, I’ll assign my daughter a plot of her own.