Meet Your Leader!

As assistant to the Community Gardens Program, one of my goals is to ensure more appreciation for wonderful volunteers that spend their time with us as well as the Community Gardens Leadership Committee Members that spend years of their time with us.  I have been able to meet and interview some truly astounding people who serve on the Leadership Committee.  These individuals are not are not only incredible gardeners, but also come from all walks of life, whether it be as an archeologist, an elementary teacher, a special education teacher, or a master bleu cheese dip maker at potlucks.  I have been so grateful to get to know these amazing people.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mike Fredrickson, an Leadership Committee member who serves at the ASUM Garden.  You may also know Mike as he helps with the food aid plot at the ASUM Garden, which produced 300 pounds of food last season.  Mike is overjoyed to be part of something that feed people who need food most and is also very happy to have had the opportunity to work with young people in the process.

I found a lot of what Mike talked with me about was something I was reflecting about in my own garden and many gardeners out there might also be reflecting upon.  For instance, Mike said, ”The great thing about gardening is you’re never disappointed.”  I could totally relate to this in that I was a little upset that a lot of my broccoli plants did not bear broccoli because they were planted to closely together.  However, I now have the knowledge to know better next year and perhaps this is more valuable than a few heads of broccoli.  Mike also mentioned the fickle climate of Missoula and how some years there was a bountiful crop of Thai and Serrano peppers, and other years, no peppers.  I guess a garden will always teach you something, whether you want to learn it or not, and will always surprise you.

Before Mike and I had to part ways and continue on with our busy days, Mike offered a bit of advice to potential gardeners:  “Before you decide on a garden, spend some time with a seasoned gardener to see if it works for you.”  Gardening is not always easy, so it’s important to come into the process with a few grains of knowledge that may curb the frustration that sometimes turns people off to gardening.

I think gardening is a collaborative process, both in the manual aspects of it, as well as the knowledge base.  Who doesn’t appreciate a helping hand in untangling bindweed from your pea trellis or the removing the mat of quackgrass threatening to puncture your carrots?  Reminding a fellow gardener to water transplanted starts immediately after they are planted is equally helpful.

If you have questions, don’t be afraid to approach the Leadership Committee member at your garden.  Mike is truly a wealth of knowledge that would be happy to help you.  Don’t forget to thank Mike and other Leadership Committee members for all the hard work they do that keeps both gardens and gardeners so happy.  Also, don’t miss out on Mike’s famous bleu cheese dip at the next potluck!