Dirt therapy

July 12, 2011 at 11:26 pm 1 comment

I think gardening is the best form of therapy. It gives a person a chance to create and destroy, express both frustration and care and experience the consequences of our actions, which, fortunately for all of us, does includes forgiveness. And of course, there is always time to smile, give high fives and laugh. After a hard day at work, there is nothing like putting your hands in the soil.

Tonight I spent over two wonderful hours at a community garden I helped start this year. The Cottageville Park Neighborhood Garden is truly an amazing place. In the middle of the Blake Road Corridor, it is the intersection of many different communities of people. A lot of work has been done by several individuals from across these communities to make this garden happen, and it is exciting to see it bloom (yes, pun intended, thank you).

One of the best parts about this garden is the kids. They have so much energy and excitement. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, trying to answer ten questions at once, but though they say that Patience is a Virtue, so is enthusiasm, or at least I think it should be. The youth in the neighborhood are excited to see – and eat – the end product, but they haven’t been afraid to put in the time to help make it happen either. Several weeks ago, they planted seedlings and seeds in the freshly tilled soil. This was a brand new experience for many of them and they were eager to participate. Today they learned to carefully weed around those very plants they helped create, and each left with a bag of greens to take home and share with their family.

Harvest from my garden tonight

After biking home from the community garden, I stopped by my own garden, which my husband and I share with a friend. The tomatoes plants are growing strong and have started to fruit, the potatoes have overcome their attack by flea beetles and the first beets are ready for harvest. As I pulled a few carrots, I was reminded of gardening with my parents when I was a child. The lessons I learned in the garden may not have been obvious then, but they have planted themselves deep in my memory and have helped form who I am today. I can only hope that I am able to pass them on to some of the youth at the community garden this summer.

As a parting thought, I’ll say this: The thing about gardening is, it’s a universal and timeless language. If we’re willing to listen, it can speak across ethnicity, class, gender and age. Sure, some of us like to grow things that are a little spicier (I’m an arugula fan myself) and others prefer things on the milder side (Black Seeded Simpson has a very nice and delicate flavor), but put us all together and you get a fantastic salad. Cheesy analogy aside, however, it is important to keep this in mind when gardening. There are always chances to provide guidance to new gardeners – like the reason we stay on the paths, instead of walking through the beets – but there is a lot of time for experienced gardeners to learn as well.  I may have a few years of gardening under my belt, but it only takes a few minutes gardening with youth to know that carrots will grow just fine, even if they’re not in a straight line.


Entry filed under: Gardening. Tags: , .

Ya sure, ya betcha! Rhubarb Ambrosia Betty

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. The beauty « foodaccordingtoemily  |  June 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    […] was recently asked to give a brief talk about the community garden, which I’ve written about in the past, where I volunteer. The talk was for an event focused on community development work and my task […]


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