Living in a small village of 900 residents in Poland and being surrounded by nature has taught me to make peace with nature and be environmental friendly. However, no one has taught me these practices better than my own mother. She was the person I decided to interview because my mom has raised me by herself, as my dad was in Chicago trying to support us financially. My mother is the biggest hero to me, and she has taught me so many values and moralities. As she was the only adult in my household with my dad being far away, she had to take care of me, my other five siblings, and my sick grandma; yet, she still had the time to teach me how to be eco- friendly and make use of what nature supplies us with.
My mom was born and raised in Poland, but now lives in Chicago, a city with the second largest population of Polish people after Warsaw, the capital of Poland. With Chicago being a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, my family is fortunate enough to be able to live in a Polish community. We have Polish blood pumping through our veins each second; thus, wherever we live, we will always reach out to the Polish community.
I interviewed my mom about the past “eco-friendly” activities that we used to practice in Poland. Because we lived in a village, most of the food we either grew ourselves or got from the farms animals, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Since gardening and farming were the two primary professions in my little village, many people grew flowers, vegetables, and other produce. My mom remembers having a huge garden, with half of it was specifically designed for flowers. She is a flower fanatic, and having a flower garden always puts her in a good mood. Besides the flowers, we cultivated strawberries, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, reddish, dill, corn, potatoes, parsley, and other produce. We also grew mint and linden flowers, which we used to make tea to treat colds. My mom also used buckhorn leaves for skin irritations and nettle was used for people with diabetes and high blood pressure. All the berries and other fruits were used to make jams, compote, or winter preserves, and the vegetables were used to make soups, traditional dishes, salads, and other foods.
She mentioned that recycling in the early years of her life was not common. It did not become common until the early 2000s. Before we migrated to United States, the government passed a law to charge fees for whoever doesn’t recycle. Wasting food, in my household, was never an option. If there was some leftover or dry bread, my mom would soak the bread in water, and feed it to chickens or other birds. Since my family had a cow and some chickens, we were able to have natural fertilizer for our plants and vegetables.
All of the listed activities are parts of my family heritage and community intertwined. Since my whole family have lived in the small village most of our lives, Polish tradition and heritage have been planted into our beliefs. The traditions were passed on through our family from generations to generations and we will not lose them. Although we do not have a cow and we don’t grow as many plants as we used to, we still hang on to these traditions as much as we can in the Lagowski household.