By Lisa Marie Stahl
My colony didnt have a garden this year. Yet, one glance in the communal kitchens cooler would have you guessing we had a bumper crop.
Because we didnt have water to irrigate, we predicted early enough that our yearly supply of produce would not come from our town garden, which normally supplied several other needy colonies besides our own. But we also knew the local grocery stores wouldnt be our suppliers, either.
Through the summer months there was hardly a car that came to visit from the other colonies that didnt bring us some kind of garden vegetable.
Such random acts of goodness are not new to the Hutterites. Helping out a needy colony with produce is perhaps the most popular way of helping.
It did surprise and impress me to see that the colonies we had helped out in the past were some of the first to call and ask what we would be needing and how much.
More than a dozen colonies came to our aid this summer, some as far away as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Though we were able to get some corn, onions, carrots and potatoes from our garden, we know we dont have enough to last us through the winter months.
Several days ago we gathered our onions, which were about a third of what we had last year. These we cut up and froze in plastic bags to use until we run out. Then, again, well rely on other colonies to get us through the winter and spring of next year.
Our carrots will stay in the ground for a few more weeks. Its an old tradition not to put out the carrots until weve had a good frost. Our gardener claims the frost is what gives them a sweet, sugary taste.
As for our potatoes, well be digging them this Saturday. Its a job which all the guys help out doing. Out gardener is pleased with the potatoes, for the amount of rain they received.
Though the disappointment of not having a garden is great to a colony, were thankful to know we wont be left empty-handed. Its such hardships which teach us an important lesson: In order to receive, one must give, but better yet, its what makes the Hutterian communities bond stronger.
Our situation reminds me of a cross stitched sign my grandma has hanging in her home: The hand that gives, gathers.