One reason we planted so many different crops was to see which ones would thrive (beets, leafy greens, and beans are just some of the champs so far). The other reason: The greater the diversity of crops, the richer the mix of nutrients that can wind up in the soil. This is the part that really thrills Bob; for years he's argued that many of our modern-day health issues stem from the fact that so much of the food we eat lacks the nutrients it used to have—in part because it's grown in soil that's depleted from pesticides and overfarming. As a result, he says, our bodies may end up feeling starved for nutrients, which Bob believes is the big reason so many of us overeat. We know we're hungry for something, but we eat the wrong things. And when we do bring home a bag of produce from the store, it's almost flavorless. No wonder we're not more excited about eating vegetables!

Here on Maui, our soil is now so good and so rich that we're already producing 145 pounds of food each week. And everything grows five times as big as you'd expect. We can grow tomatoes all year long, and they taste like real tomatoes. We're still figuring out the best way to make use of our bounty, but for now I walk down the road with bags of lettuce, going, "Hi, would you like some lettuce?" I grew it! I feel like I can't waste it.

In the same way that good soil produces a good crop, a good friendship can bring about something wonderful. Bob and I have known each other since 1992. That's the year I was struggling with my weight so much that I hoped Phil Donahue would win the Emmy and spare me the embarrassment of hauling myself out of my chair in front of everyone to accept the award. No such luck.

Not long after that night, I reached out to Bob, who taught me to treat my body—and the food I put into it—with respect. Now the farm is giving us a chance to show that same respect to this beautiful land.

I've come to see the process of growing things as a metaphor for living. In life, as on a farm or in a garden, we get out of it what we put into it. Whatever our dreams, ideas, or projects, we plant a seed, nurture it—and then reap the fruits of our labors. That lesson was there for the taking way back in Mississippi. But I needed 50 years, thousands of miles, Bob's great example, and a whole lot of big, beautiful tomatoes to really learn it for myself.

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