Teaching My Children Dignity

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with

I inhale. The morning dew draws out the rich, earthy smell of the soil. I stoop to check my tomato plants, smiling in satisfaction as I imagine the sweet juices ripening beneath the firm skins.

I get lost amid the plants, as sunlight begins flooding the garden.

“The plants are looking good, Dad.” She stands, schoolbag in hand, mirroring my inspection of the plants.

It started with her—
and with seeds.

In its rawest form, gardening is about cultivating life to nourish existing life. We needed food. As I slowly learned the craft of fathering three daughters, I also learned the craft of gardening.

“Can I help?”

The first request came as my hands were immersed in soil—sweat dripping down my face.

I leaned back on my heels and took in her eager face.

From their first request, all three of my daughters began helping in the garden.

When the garden began producing more than we could consume, we started selling vegetables in the community.

Our garden grew
and we transitioned
it into a business.

As I learned how to run a business, I taught my daughters.

This garden has done more than put food in our bellies and generate an income to cover our needs. It’s instilled principles of hard work and dedication. My daughters will carry these qualities with them as they earn degrees in accounting and social work.

With a sly smile, my daughter plucks off one of the tomatoes and puts it in her schoolbag. My heart swells with the simple joy of knowing the soil and seeds have helped nurture my daughters and created a bond between us that will last forever.

Farmer, Durban

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