Appalachian Women Gardeners Add Wealth to Personal Finances

This is a story of three women vegetable gardeners in Appalachia and how they use their resources to add income in their homes. These women live in and around Scott and Morgan County Tennessee. These counties are about eighty miles or so from Knoxville, Tennessee. I encountered two of these women when visiting family and visiting with health ministry in the Appalachian areas of these Tennessee counties. The third one, Alma Storie, was from memory and was my grandmother.

The wisdom from these three women gardeners is one of those blessings I receive that have been passed down from many generations.

An 84 year old woman who I will call ‘Flower’ is one such wise woman. She is named after a flower so this is the name given to her in this story. She has planted a garden since she was a child. She has had knee replacements and continues to garden if at all possible. Not long after her surgery I witnessed her cleaning off her land and down the sides of the land that went to the road from her house. I couldn’t believe it! She was supposed to be recovering from surgery. Instead, she was getting her allowed exercise by cleaning debris from her land. When Flower is able healthwise, she will plant a garden and eat from the fresh vegetables in the summer. There will be no additives or preservatives in this food. Today, we would call this type of eating organic. She calls it clean natural food.

For years Flower preserved food in jars and would dry vegetables and preserve what else she could salvage. The family will eat on this food all winter until next spring, thus, a table of plenty exists in this house. Flower knows the value of a bean seed. She knows if the weather holds well that this one bean seed will produce many pints or quarts of canned beans for the winter. Flower holds her head high as she sees to the needs of her household. Flower knows every kind of plant on her land. She knows what is important to the flora of her landscape and what is a nuisance that needs to be cut down. For example, she says, ” A Kudgy vine will take over a needed crop of plants.” She will have it cut down. In the South where this vine grows heartily baskets can be made from their vines.

Flower has many walnut trees that she uses the nuts for candy and cakes. Through the years the squirrels have buried the walnuts and these same walnut seeds have now become walnut trees. Flower lets the walnut trees grow as neighbors can gather the extra walnuts for their breads and pastries.

Flower lives on a meager retirement from her deceased husband. In the late summer when Flower’s grandchildren visit she can feed them from her garden. A table full of fresh vegetables and melons is plentiful. Flower would never be able to provide for her family in such a manner if not for the garden. When she eats off the preserved food in the winter months it reduces her monthly grocery budget that may save her a fourth of her retirement every month. For example, if she receives eight hundred dollars a month on retirement benefits and can save a fourth of that amount in the winter months from November to May in the coming year she has saved $1,400 dollars from that previous years’ crop of food.

Another lady named Wanda that lives in Morgan County Tennessee also sees the importance of a garden.
Wanda and I had a conversation lately and she said that her garden was very valuable to her. Here is a bit of that conversation.

“That garden will save me about three hundred dollars in the late summer month by eating off the fresh produce. In the winter months I can save about nine hundred dollars from that food. That means a lot when your on a fixed income.”

Wanda continues about the value of her garden..”I had surgery once and still had the cast on. I put a plastic bag around my leg to keep the cast clean and worked in my garden. I had to do this so the crop would grow with the season.”

Wanda is now teaching a thirty year old new neighbor woman how to grow a garden. Observing Wanda and her gardening helped me better understand the value of stewardship. The third woman named Alma lived in Scott County Tennessee. Her home was on a high ridge that was close to the Clear Fork River. This is an area that is close to the Big South Fork Preservation Park running through parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Alma planted large gardens and a field full of corn. When Alma started drawing Social Security she received 65 dollars a month. Now I admit that was about twenty years ago but her story still has significance today.

I knew this woman very well. She was my grandmother, Alma Jones Storie. Grandma taught me the wealth of what a garden could produce. She had not worked out in public but worked very hard in her home and on her land. Grandma would plant that garden and by the end of the summer she had a basement full of food and dried vegetables throughout that cellar.

She would save the seeds from the past garden and show us the seeds and tell us to remember what could grow from those seeds. I still think of those large gardens and the basement/cellar full of food. When grandma passed away, she had a basement full of food, a smart bank account, and owed no one any debt. From childhood memory I can remember grandma putting a seed into the ground and a few months later that same bean seed would be a large bunch of beans on that bush. She would later preserve those beans by cooking them and putting them in jars.

About every week grandma would use a hoe or her hands and pull away any weeds that were growing close to the beans or any other vegetable plant. If rain didn’t come she would draw water from her well and water the plants. I still remember how big that garden was from a few bunch of seeds. I still remember those summer and late fall dinners she would place on the table that came from the garden. She didn’t need to use her meager Social Security money for the food on that table but instead, served the meal with a smile.

My husband and I are planning on planting a garden in our backyard this summer. We will keep record of our grocery bills and see for ourselves how much a city backyard garden will yield for us.

Faith for Finances: Sowing and REAPING!

We are in our series, Faith for Finances and today we are talking about sowing and reaping. Our scripture references are Genesis 26:1-6, 12-14 and Mark 4:14-20:

Genesis 26:1-6

And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. And Isaac dwelt in Gerar.

Genesis 26:12-14

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year a hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.

Mark 4:14-20

The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.

I wanted to talk mainly today about the reaping side of sowing and reaping. A lot of us sleep on the reaping aspect and then get discouraged from sowing in the first place. The offering period is not a time we look forward to in church and we don’t want to send anything to any ministries either. We get discouraged about our own lack. We get discouraged that the manifestation of the blessing hasn’t happened for us. The real issue is that we don’t look at sowing and reaping as we should. We think sowing and reaping is a magical kind of thing. We feel like, if I put this money in church, everything in my life is going to be wonderful in the next moment. A lot of times when we sow, we’re hyped up, we’re in an emotional state, and we’re excited. I’m not saying that any of that is bad. In fact, the excitement is good; our faith is stirred in that moment. However, the problem is that we don’t stop to think about how to actually live this thing out. This is not just true of sowing and reaping, but it’s true of everything in church. We get excited while we’re there on Sunday, but then Monday rolls around, life shows back up, and the thrill is gone. (Sing, B.B.) What we have to do is reproduce that thrill in our everyday lives. The Word has to become flesh in our lives.

No farmer plants seed and then goes home and forgets about it. He tends his crop and when the harvest is ready, he goes in and reaps it. Did you just stop with the planting of the seed? If so, insects and animals are going to come in and make that crop theirs. The Enemy will come as we see in the book of Mark. The devil comes immediately to steal the Word that was sown into our hearts and to discourage us and to make us think it was a lie. So, we have to have some standing power after church is over. When we come out of the church setting, we gotta do it. We gotta stay with it, we gotta believe that it is true and we gotta stand guard against the Enemy. We gotta stand there flat-footed and say, “I’m not moving until I see it come to pass!” You gotta get serious about this thing. If you want to flow, if you want to live in the blessing, then you’re gonna have to stand on the Word. You have to take God’s Word as being true and when the Enemy comes in with everything that he has, you have to stand. We stand by continuing to speak the Word over our situation, pray prayers of thanksgiving and sing songs of praise. In other words, we recreate, as much as possible, the atmosphere that we sowed into. Then we go to church and conferences, etc., to charge our faith and strengthen us to reap our blessing. The behind the scenes side (spiritual side) of reaping involves running off the adversary, God getting things aligned with whoever else is involved in your blessing and you getting instructions on how to actually receive the blessing in the natural. This behind-the-scenes spiritual warfare is not much unlike the farmer tending the crop, keeping away the insects, animals and weeds, etc., and making sure everything else is in place for the crop to come in and of course, having the wisdom (instructions) on how to actually harvest the crop. Oh, wouldn’t it be so nice to just sow a seed and forget about it? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You have to see it through. If you’re determined to see it through, you’ll reap. You’ll reap if you faint not. (See Galatians 6:9)

Sow in famine?

In Genesis 26, we are looking at Isaac’s life. The thing that is key is that Isaac obeyed God. God instructed Isaac to not go into Egypt, but to stay put. It would have made sense to go to Egypt because it was in a better economic position. The land where God told Isaac to dwell was in a famine. However, Egypt is a type of the world. So, in essence, God told him, “Don’t go to the world and get the world’s way of doing things. Stay with me and do what I tell you to do.” Isaac did just that and he was blessed tremendously. He sowed in the land where God told him to stay and he received a hundredfold return. Additionally, he lived a great life and not only survived, but thrived.

This is God’s will for us, too. We’ve been in a time of famine with the Recession and its aftermath. However, we’re not limited by those things that limit the world. We’re not bound by the things that bind the world. The world doesn’t dictate how we live. We’re Christians. So, whatever the season is, we live well. Why? Because we are seeking first the Kingdom of God and we are obeying him. Because we’re on the Lord’s side, we’re on the winning side. However, if we get off of his side and start doing what we see our neighbors do, then we’re gonna get what we see our neighbors get. We don’t want that. I know you want to be friends with your neighbors; you want to fit in. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and be talked about by them. However, look at what they have and ask yourself, “Is that what I want? Do I want a day filled with strife? Do I want a life without peace? Do I want to not be able to pay my bills?” Is that what you want? I’m sure it isn’t. Stay on the Lord’s side and allow those neighbors to see how well you live and then they’ll want to come over to the Lord’s side. It’ll be a witness unto them. When they start asking you how you do it, you can tell them, the Lord did this; God did this for me. Then they can go to God and be blessed, also. Eventually, the Philistines had to call Isaac blessed and acknowledge his God. They envied him and did things to hurt him, but eventually called him blessed.

You’re making an investment in YOU

Let’s talk about the reaping side. To reap, you have to use your faith, you have to speak the Word, and you have to do practical things. People think that sowing is like losing something. They think, “I’m giving this money and I’ll never see it again.” You don’t want to ever think about it like that. You always want to think about it as making an investment. Of course, make it into good ground. A lot of times we think, “I don’t want to give the preacher my money,” because you feel like they’re going to be a crook. There are some crooks out there; don’t give your money to the crooks! Let God show you where to sow. If you seek God and obey Him, He’ll tell you where to sow. The whole key again is obeying Him and doing what He says. Yes, you will want to put your money into good ground; you don’t want to waste your seed. So, you trust the Spirit of God, even when it doesn’t make sense. Even if you think they could be crooked, but you know God is telling you to sow there, obey God. (Kind of like when Isaac sowed in a famine.) God knows something that you don’t know and He will work it out for you. However, if you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it’s crooked – you saw the pastor get handcuffed and taken downtown – then you know what’s going on. Don’t put your money into bad ground. Just always obey God and don’t go on what you think may be going on, because in that case you’ll always talk yourself out of sowing.

I remember when God first start dealing with me about sowing. It was the early 90’s and I didn’t know anything about sowing and reaping. I grew up in a church where we just gave a dollar in the main offering. Before the main offering, we had the Benevolence Offering, which we referred to as the “penny offering,” because people just put pennies and other coins in it. After the penny offering, we marched around the front of the church and put a dollar on the table. When God started dealing with me about sowing, He told me to give $100. I was taken aback. I thought, “What?!” Actually, He told me to take $100 and sow into five different ministries. So it was only $20 for each ministry; however, that was still a big jump from a dollar! I really thought, “This can’t be God talking to me. I must be making this up.” As I stated in the last blog, I’m more of a saver than a spender. So, after God told me to sow, I looked at my checking account balance and I didn’t have enough left over to sow $100 after I’d paid my bills. So, I thought, “Whew! That was just me, it wasn’t God.” (Really, Trish? You? For real?… ) Then I heard Him say, “You have it in your savings.” Whoa. Before I knew it, I was speaking with my grandparents’ Louisiana Creole accent and I exclaimed, “Mais, non! Mais, that’s my money, wuh!” (Loosely translated: Oh, no! Don’t you know that’s my money?!) I couldn’t shake that it was the voice of God, so I went ahead and sent the offerings. The very next day, I got a check for $700! It was a tax refund check; however, I was not expecting it to come as early as it did. So, I definitely didn’t miss the $100 that I took from my savings and I had instant increase! Most importantly, God showed me what He could do through my obedience. I was so happy! He also blessed me with more than money and that blessing is something that I’m still benefitting from today.

One of the ministries he instructed me to give to was Kenneth Copeland Ministries. After I gave to them, they put me on their mailing list and started sending the “Believers’ Voice of Victory Magazine.” However, all of this was unbeknownst to me. The magazine arrived one day out of the blue. I just so happened to be teaching “The Coming of the Holy Spirit” to my Sunday School Class. I always read other materials to supplement the Teacher’s Guide. In the magazine, there was an article by Gloria Copeland, entitled, “Why Tongues?” The night before the magazine came, I read a minibook by Kenneth Hagin entitled, “How to Receive the Holy Spirit.” When I read it, I thought, “WHAT does this have to do with the coming of the Holy Spirit?!” Then here comes Sis. Copeland’s article, “Why Tongues?” Long story short, I caught on that God was “dealing with me again.” Although, I didn’t dare teach “tongues” to my Sunday School Class (I did later), I did receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit before the end of the weekend. My whole life’s trajectory changed in that moment. So, the whole while God was “worrying me” about sowing, he was just trying to bless my ignorant self! Obey God.

We’re going to stop here and in next month’s blog, we’ll talk more about reaping, so that you can get your harvest in. I have several scriptures for you that will call it forth!

I would be remiss if I taught on sowing and reaping and didn’t give you an opportunity to sow. Listen to God’s instructions about sowing into this ministry and obey Him. This ministry is good ground. Everything done here is to help you and others live successfully, based on the principles found in God’s Word. Some people don’t realize that having a successful life and living for God can co-exist. However, Jesus came to save us AND give us life abundantly. (See John 10:10) So, listen to God and sow your seed by clicking below. Thank you for your support that keeps this ministry coming to you and others in need around the world.