I spent my Father’s Day weekend at home with my dad, who’s becoming more and more like my grandfather. It’s not the just the white hair and the frail figure, it’s the mannerisms and personality traits. From the little I remember, my grandfather was big into sustainable living. He once gave me a lesson on why I didn’t need to use more than four squares of toilet tissue. I still to this day only use four sheets of toilet paper per bathroom trip. My grandfather recycled everything. Even if something couldn’t be recycled, he would figure out a way to repurpose it around the house. Old soda bottles were assembled into spouts for the sink or they would be used for seeding house plants and vegetables in the garden.

One summer when my grandparents visited from Korea, my grandfather spent his three-month long trip building a backyard garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and squash. Neither father, nor I at that young age, cared if our vegetables came from our backyard. Why would we work in the sun, when we could go to an air-conditioned store and buy all the vegetables we needed?

It’s been over fifteen years since that summer and that garden has passed and so has my grandfather. But this weekend, I was surprised to discover that my father had started his own garden. Except this time, instead of being in our backyard it’s in our front yard. Where most people would grow gardenias and tulips, my father planted lettuce for all the neighbors to see. It’s not as elaborate as our last garden, but it’s efficient and overflowing with lettuce bibs.

suburban gardening

suburban gardening and farming

suburban gardening and farming

suburban farming and gardening

suburban farming and gardening

Perhaps it’s a new found interest in farming, gardening, living healthy, connecting with his dad, or maybe it’s an awareness of mortality. Whatever it is, I’m so unbelievably proud of him. I can’t begin to describe the emotions that overwhelmed me watching him pick bibs of lettuce for our dinner. And I swear that dinner tasted better because he harvested the fruits, or vegetables, of his labor.

There are many benefits to farming and gardening at home: there’s more produce available, you’re able to control the use of pesticides, it helps the environment, and it even saves money. But the biggest benefit, in my opinion, is love. I truly believe that farming is an extension of my dad’s love for me. He not only helped give me life by bringing me into this world, but he’s now helping me (and everyone else in our family) live a long one by sharing nourishing, healthy foods.

Thanks Dad for providing for me in more ways than one. Your muscles may not be as big as they once were, but you truly resemble Super Man.