If I never see another Japanese beetle it will be too soon.

Working with Mother Nature this summer in the garden has not been easy. In addition to weed pressure, we had our first major run-in with this horrible pest. While I’ve heard it prefers ornamental trees and shrubs, apparently it loves okra as much as my family does.

Yet despite the presence of this annoying little bug, every time I look at our garden lately, it seems there is more to pick. Our okra patch has outdone itself given its predator and is still putting on blooms. The tomato plants are so huge they’ve bent over their cages. Green beans came in a fury and went. Our bell pepper plants actually produced. But sadly, the kale succumbed to some bug, about which I’m not too heartbroken.

Our garden plot is not always as productive as it was this year. In addition to eating fresh vegetables, we put up 24 quarts of tomatoes, 26 quarts of green beans, 12 quarts of bread and butter pickles, seven quarts of dill pickles and four pints of salsa. Truth be told, I am glad the high season for gardening is almost at an end. I’m exhausted.

Having fresh vegetables all summer long just outside our door has been a blessing; however, my boys are probably tired of hearing me say, “Be the ant not the grasshopper.” If you’re gardening to feed your family, it’s a commitment. It’s more than posting a “look what I grew” picture on Instagram, though I did that, too. We were in the garden almost every day — water, cultivate, harvest, repeat.

It’s something we take for granted—this food availability thing. Farmers nearby and halfway around the world are professionals. They work hard to support their families and provide food choices in the grocery store. We are blessed that there are farmers who have a passion for growing food, fiber and fuel. They make it possible for me to occasionally be the grasshopper, catch my breath and know that someone has my back when it comes to food choices for my family.

In Missouri, harvest is already upon us in some areas. Corn is being brought in from the field in the Bootheel as I write. I’m already meeting my friends on their tractors on the rural roads in mid-Missouri.

If you see them, give them a wave and your patience as they busy themselves and do their work to put food on our tables all year.

Rebecca French Smith, of Columbia, Mo. is a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.

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