Essay Winner: Let the Lessons Live On

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iStockphoto/Slawomir Jastrzebski

Looking Forward to Herbs: We were faced with many good choices as we read through the entries for our 20th anniversary essay contest, “Looking Forward to Herbs.” Our first-place winner, Shell Greenier’s “Let the Lessons Live On,” reminds us of the legacy we’ve inherited and the future we want to bequeath.

Shell, along with our second-place winner Gert Coleman and third-place winner Marguerite Dunne, will receive a selection of delightful herbal products from some of our favorite advertisers. Read the second- and third-place essays, plus excerpts from other essay entries,

–The Editors

She leans over the flower box, 2 years old and chasing butterflies through the oasis that is our garden. The breeze plays at her pretty curls and sets them dancing in the sky behind her. This urban homestead is fairyland to her, a place to play and live out grand pirate adventures and princess romances.

Trailing vines of Malabar spinach and trees of papaya, pomegranate and ackee set the scene as rosemary and lavender stand guard and occasionally fill in as her fellow players. In her playful travels, she runs her hands through soft tufts of fennel and rubs tiny fingers across fragrant leaves of mint.

I sit beside her and teach her the magic of a seed that with a little love and nurturing will become a source of amazement. I take her by the hand and we walk together through the garden, learning together that there is more to life than what comes to us on store shelves and in glossy magazines.

These days will resonate through her life, the lessons will live on. Twenty years from now, I hope her garden looks like mine and that it’s full of the lessons that remind us of who we are:
It all starts with a seed, and that tiny seed contains virtues we should strive for: perseverance, truth and will.

Little seeds grow into sources of sustenance and healing. Be the source of sustenance and healing for all those who cross your path.

Never play too rough with the plants, animals, bugs and snails that make their home alongside ours. Treat them as you would like to be treated yourself.

Our relationship with this Earth is your legacy, passed down from prior generations to us. You are its protector. Never exchange its health for profit or gain and never remain silent toward those who do.

Plant rosemary as a reminder to take time for your loved ones and create magical moments and magnificent memories.

Surround yourself with chamomile as a promise to love and take care of yourself and drink tea daily. The world moves too fast, but stands still in the garden.

Look to the trees as your role models; may you always stand tall, be strong and protect those smaller than you.  

The best prescription for many ailments is to run barefoot in the dirt, lie in the grass and fall asleep in the sun.

I can only show her and hope the seeds are sown for generations to come. Twenty years from now, mint will be mint, rosemary will be rosemary, but that little girl in the garden will be all grown up. It is my prayer that the lessons she learned from the mint, the rosemary and the fennel will stick with her as she goes out into the world.

I hope she passes these lessons down to her sons and daughters the way my mother and grandfather did for me.

Shell Greenier lives in Vero Beach, Florida. She owns Shellberry (, an urban homesteading company that provides classes around the community and sells gourmet herbs.

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