By Jasmina Halimic on November 12, 2021
After World War 2 people were left with very little money and resources in parts of Europe, in the former Yugoslavia, where this story begins. When my father and his siblings were little, their city got hit by a major earthquake leaving them with even less. In an effort for relief and aid, families were loaned small montage houses in the city’s outskirts.
The house came with a little piece of land that my grandmother converted into a garden with a chicken coop and a goat that functioned like a homestead.
My grandmother said the garden became her refuge.
Then it became so much more.
This tiny garden fed her children and became a valuable source of income. In fact, it was the only reliable source of income for the family. My grandmother learned gardening through experience. She taught herself about the soil, chemistry and traditional herbal medicine. Then she started making ointments with the plants she grew.
She would tell me the story of how she built her business, and how even in the midst of hardship she found a way to grow. The possibilities of making a comfortable living from a tiny piece of land were challenging for my grandmother, but also rewarding and fulfilling.
She invested great love in her plants, sometimes singing to them and always saying a prayer when she planted a seed. At the very least, she figured it couldn’t hurt, but I think it really helped. People would tell her they could feel the love from the products she created with the plants she cultivated.
The ointments themselves were extremely effective. Grandma would say, “You would be astonished at how many young women came to me requesting beautifying treatments for various skin conditions.”
Her pantry was always filled with jars and bottles with plant tinctures. As a child I learned by watching her and helping her collect and process plants for macerations and tinctures.
My grandmother used to tell me, “Learning about the soil can teach you everything you need to know about life. Seed connects the web of life.“