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Arianne Brown: Grow a garden for your neighbors

Arianne Brown's children harvest vegetables from their garden.
Arianne Brown's children harvest vegetables from their garden.
Arianne Brown

Every morning, I head out to the garden with my kids to harvest the day's pickings. Sometimes it's green beans and lettuce, sometimes cantaloupe and raspberries, but mostly it's zucchini and cucumbers that grow abundantly on the large plot. All of it has been delicious and oh, so much fun.

Just the other day, I was moving my way through the massive amounts of vines and was elated to see a speck of red in the mix of all the green. Our tomatoes were finally beginning to ripen!

I was smiling ear to ear — and I don't even like tomatoes.

It was just last winter when my family moved to our home in Payson, Utah. It was our dream home in an older, more established neighborhood, and we finally had space and land for the kids to play on. There was one section of land on the far corner of our front yard, however, that we had no idea what to do with. Come spring, it was overgrown with weeds, and it was a total eyesore.

We wondered what the purpose of this large section of earth was. After all, the home was built in 1964, and we knew that there was no way that it had been riddled with weeds for the past 54 years. So, we asked around the neighborhood inquiring what the original homeowners had used that land for.

“Ray had the best tomatoes,” they all said. “He had the most lovely garden, and he would share his tomatoes with the whole neighborhood.”

The more people I asked, the more I heard about Ray's tomatoes. The neighbors told stories of the house on the corner with the garden, and how they missed it. I began to feel the love that my new community had for this house and the history it held.

My answer was clear: We would make it a garden, and first on the list was tomatoes — lots and lots of tomatoes that we could share with our new neighbors. I wanted to pay homage to the original owners and the wonderful community we we're now a part of.

There was only one problem: Those weeds.

By the time we had decided to plant a garden, it was late in the season. There was so much work to do, and we didn't have the tools to do it. Not only would we need to rid the area of weeds, but we would need to till and prepare the land.

We worked hard pulling the weeds and raking through the dirt, but it was getting overwhelming.

I had expressed to a neighbor how bad we wanted a garden, but wasn't sure if we'd be able to get it done it time. We also had a family trip planned, and it was looking like our tribute to Ray and contribution to our wonderful new neighborhood would have to wait.

One week later, we pulled into our driveway, and the land had been tilled and the ground prepared. My heart swelled with gratitude for the act of service we had received.

We truly live in a wonderful community, and they will get their tomatoes, I will make sure of it. I may even thrown in some green beans, zucchini and cucumbers for good measure.

I’m sure Ray would have done the same.