By Terry Jones, Senior Director, Talent Development
As an avid gardener, I decided to use my FLEXBenefits to buy some raised beds in order to grow fruit and vegetables and educate my children on the seed to stomach process.
The garden is at the back of my house in sunny Hertfordshire, UK, and being able to simply step outside, put my hands in the soil, produce organic food and help my children find the love of gardening as opposed to gaming, is a delicious addition to our lives.
I got into gardening because I used to own an allotment for several years and discovered the joys of producing fruit and vegetables through much failure, trial and error and researching. I learned so much about growing from seasoned growers with plots next to mine and fell in love with nurturing something from flower to fruit to flourishing.
There may also be some family influence as my grandmother was a prolific grower and my grandfather-in-law was head gardener at Luton Hoo manor house. Gardening is important to me as I get to eat super-tasty, organically produced food while helping the environment and my own mental well-being.
As for my kids, two of my three children are passionate about seeing something grow from a tiny seed to a huge plant and then picking something they can cook and eat. All of them, though, understand and respect the process, and like getting their hands in the soil!
The trick is to grow food they'll eat, then they experience seed to stomach.
Each year, I like to experiment with what I grow. I have a mix of some staples such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and I also like experimenting with new seeds and varieties. I bought some interesting Bhindi, Romansecu cauliflower and an interesting squash variety from Chelsea Flower Show last year and so I am giving them a go.
Every growing season brings a fresh challenge -- the climate, the soil, the seeds, the time and my well-being can all vary.
What is constant though is that simple happiness of putting my hands in the soil, planting, watering, watching, nurturing for the sheer pleasure of producing something naturally that feeds my family (and neighbors) and knowing that my children will also get this pleasure in years to come.
I honestly believe it made a big contribution to me surviving the lockdowns over the last two years.
Sometimes you need luck to be happy but growing fruit and vegetables can certainly increase your chances. Thank you Palo Alto Networks for the FLEXBenefits program that is making this garden possible.