As the rainy days of spring slowly transition into the sunny days of summer, our community garden continues to grow well. It is always exciting to see a plot of soil and dirt transform into a bounty of produce in only a few short months.
We’ve spent a lot time at our garden over the last week, catching up on our weeding and watering, and even harvesting some radishes, spinach, swiss chard and kale. Our potatoes, pumpkin, beans squash and onions are continuing to grow well, but we’ve had some issues with our zucchini, parsnips and beets. (Mostly just the fact that they never appeared.)
I am surprised at just how invested I am in our garden’s development. Sure, this is an aspect of my job, and yes, I want to be able to help feed the Spirit of the Land class in the fall, but more than anything, I feel a strong personal connection to this garden and the land it’s grown on. I fret about the slow development of our onions and I exclaim with joy when I discover that potato bugs have not yet touched our plants. In this garden, I see a reflection of myself, someone who, while rooted in place, has crawling tendrils exploring outside the borders. Just like our garden, I am a work in progress, with great growth spurts in some places, and a lack of development in others. This garden has also created a bounty of confidence, helping me to realize that I can grow food and learn practical skills, away from academia. This has not only been gratifying, but exciting- I can hardly go a day without bragging about our garden to someone, praising its resilience and strength, and in turn, finding my own.
After we had finished our first harvest, we had the task of washing and bagging the greens- half to be frozen for the fall and the other half donated to the food bank (with a bit of kale falling into my fridge!). It was incredible to see how much can be produced in such a small space- I filled my kitchen island 3 times over! As I washed and dried and bagged our spoils, I realized what a deep love I have for this land, which can produce food like magic, nourishing body, soul and community.
As I become more and more invested in this garden, I am reminded of a quote from Wendell Berry that reads: “…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry)
Indeed, as we continue to care for this garden and land, the amount of enjoyment, hopefulness and peace that I feel continues to grow. By cherishing the land, I also cherish my relationships, community and myself. And out of this love comes positive growth, one that enhances all that it touches, expanding the traditional and yet transformational idea that life, land and community are all gifts that must be cared for, in order to be sustained.