Archive for June, 2012

The beauty

I was recently asked to give a brief talk about the community garden where I volunteer, which I’ve written about in the past. The talk was for an event focused on community development work and my task was to highlight the achievements and importance of places like the garden in building sustainable community. My talk started with the reasons I first came to the garden – partly a matter of faith, caring for creation and the children and families in the community, and partly a matter of professional interest, advocating for access to healthy, local and affordable food for all.

And while these two reasons are definitely valid and important enough on their own as motivation to volunteer at the garden, I realized that the thing which keeps me coming back to the garden is simply…

The beauty.
(The following is the remainder of my speech.)

This beauty may not always be apparent, we have our tough days – but the beauty is always there.

The beauty in our garden is not found in everyone showing up on time and diligently working for hours. It’s not found in straightly planted rows of carrots or evenly spaced tomato seedlings, with no weeds growing between them.

The beauty in our garden is found in places you might not see if you stopped by on your own, but I promise you that it exists in a way that can, and will, grow over the years.

The beauty in our garden is found in a child discovering how to read a seed packet or learning to use a shovel for the first time.

It’s found when a child you weren’t sure was paying attention correctly identifies most of the vegetables planted in the garden.

This beauty is found in beets, and a young girl, down on her knees discovering how to thin them and saying how sad it was to have to remove some of the plants so others could grow, then realizing that she could eat the greens and eagerly taking them home.

The beauty is found when you overhear supposedly “uninterested” kids later instructing their peers on how to properly plant a tomato with phrases like “no, she said to do it THIS way.”

The beauty occurs you hear Indian women telling Latino women how to use eggplant and Latino women informing me what you can do with a tomatillo.

The beauty is when you harvest the abundant basil and turn it in to pesto and then serve it on pasta, and some of the kids actually like it (even if they won’t admit it until weeks later).

The beauty is found when a child returns to the garden after picking lettuce the previous day and she tells you that her mom bought salad dressing especially for the occasion so they could enjoy the meal together, as a family.

The beauty is found in a six year old boy who looks up at you, after tasting his first bite ever of yellow summer squash, which HE helped you grill and serve to the other kids, and say “Mmmm…Squash is the bomb! Can I have another?”

The Cottageville Park Neighborhood Garden provides a unique space for our youth and families in the Blake Road Corridor to come together. In a neighborhood that has its challenges, there are just as many, if not more, opportunities. The garden is a place where adults and children from all cultures and walks of life can put their hands in the dirt, and grow not only food, but community.

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June 29, 2012 at 11:34 pm 3 comments


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