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How an epic crop failure helped me find ‘seeds of greatness’

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 18 October 2016

Harvest season is upon us, and while you may be counting your corn silage by the ton and beans by the bushel, I’m counting my zucchini … on one hand.

It was a tough growing season this year in my 4-foot-by-8-foot box garden. Neither of my crops really thrived. I took one cutting off my second-year rhubarb, but my zucchini crop was a flop. The vision of a brimming basket overflowing with my favorite vegetable turned out to be a mere armful of stunted squash.

As I stared down at my half-dozen harvest, alas, I had to face the facts: I was a terrible zucchini farmer.

This was a huge disappointment because I really love zucchini. Sliced, chopped, shredded or “zoodled,” it’s such a versatile vegetable that can be transformed into baked goods, thrown into soups or smothered in sauce and cheese.

Oh, how I love zucchini. I asked myself why my crop had failed so miserably, but the answer was quite clear: My zucchini didn’t grow because I did nothing to help them.

I started off the season with good intentions. We planted the seeds in the ground and, early on, there was plenty of rain to help them germinate. Well, after that we had some dry stretches. And, of course, I got too busy with other, more important tasks and neglected to provide the growing plants with additional water or fertilizer.

So it should come as no surprise that my zucchini did not thrive. They never reached their full potential because I did not nurture them. I was feeling pretty defeated by the experience until the words of one dairyman completely changed the way I looked at my failed zucchini crop.

Hank Wagner is not only a successful dairy farmer, he is also a highly inspiring motivational speaker, author and industry leader. In a recent conversation, he talked about “seeds of greatness.” These seeds are talents and skills that, when developed, can achieve goals and dreams – but if they go uncared for and lie dormant under the soil, they will never reach their full potential.

Hank told me, “… seeds of greatness are already within you. Seeds that are crying out to be grown, developed, cared for and protected.”

I thought of Hank’s words as I looked at my sorrowful zucchini yield and realized that it wasn’t just the seeds in the garden I had been neglecting; I had failed to focus on cultivating my own seeds of greatness. I was guilty of getting stuck in the daily grind of work and family life, focusing so much on the immediate tasks in front of me that I had forgotten how to think big and dream beyond diapers and deadlines.

But thanks to Hank’s guidance, I am learning to look beyond today’s to-do list and creating a long-term vision for what I can achieve and the difference I can make in this world.

So as you are out there harvesting your crops in the field this fall, ask yourself what seeds of greatness are already planted within you? What are your skills and talents? What are your dreams? And what are you doing to nurture those seeds and cultivate them so you can live a life with meaning and purpose?

Next spring, when I plant my zucchini garden, I will carefully place each seed of greatness in the ground and commit to giving it the time and attention it needs to bear fruit … or in this case, vegetables.  end mark

Peggy Coffeen
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