by OCMGA Master Gardener Tammy Borden
It’s nearly harvest time. Many of us will be picking melons, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and other garden delights. It’s a good time to remind ourselves of the purpose of fruit.
Most of us admittedly see fruit as something to be consumed, but in nature its main purpose is
not meant to feed us or the birds and animals. Yes, that does happen, but even when birds eat the fruit
there is a glorious thing that happens so that the real purpose of fruit can be accomplished … What
comes in comes out. .. and the birds spread the seeds … sometimes on your car window, but they’re spread. In fact, it’s believed that an endangered tree on an island off Madagascar called the dodo tree almost went extinct because the dodo bird which died out in the 1600’s was among the only creatures that ate the fruit from the tree and spread them. These trees live to be 3 or 4 hundred years old and in the early 1900’s scientists started realizing that the trees were dying out. The seeds of the dodo tree were like small rocks, and it was determined that there was something special about the digestive tract of the dodo bird that softened the hard coating of the seed enough so that when it was eliminated the seed could break through its tough shell and sprout. So when the bird became extinct and didn’t spread the seeds, the tree started to go extinct too.
Fruit is intended to continue the cycle of life. In our lives, we can also have the attitude that the
fruit that is produced is for our own personal gain: our talents, time, money, accomplishments, etc…
But when we focus our lives on consuming and getting all we can, we lose out on life. Because just like in nature, life is not found in getting, but in giving. Many articles tell how to improve our lives by eating more healthy, exercising, relaxing, getting a hobby, yoga and making new friends. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with these things. These are generally good things, and we should take care of ourselves. But these are not the things of life. These are all focused on me, myself and I. Any fruit that might be produced by doing these things is to improve me.
Even many who teach that we should volunteer or give back to our community often suggest do- ing it to give ourselves a good feeling and that it should be done for us… not others. But when our underlying motivation to volunteer, give to charity or help other people is ultimately to help ourselves in- stead of them, then we are the ones who miss out. Our motivation to serve and share our gifts should always be love … not self-improvement, not so I have a good feeling, not so I get recognized, not so I reach my goals, not so I’m happy, not so I… I… I… But because of love. That should be our motivation. That is when fruit produces the greatest impact. Ironically, when we act out of love instead of self-interest, we often feel happy as a result. But when our only motivation is to be happy, we’re often left unsatisfied and empty.
I have seen this attitude of love and passion in many of my friends within the Master Gardener Volunteer Organization … They know that sharing the bounty, their gifts, talents and time, is not about
just doing more; it’s about loving more… loving others, caring for our environment, and educating the community. True love and passion will move, compel and inspire us to act and make a difference. And if we didn’t, our hearts would be so discontented that it would tear at our souls. True love and passion will shake us. It will make us uncomfortable. It will drag us from our comfort zone and sometimes into the battle zone. Let’s not just be consumers, but through love, let’s continue the cycle of life and share the bounty with others … together.