Sharing Fertile Ground

My old, tattered copy of Webster’s New World Dictionary defines community as any group living in the same area or having interests, work, in common and also a sharing in common. Webster’s defines garden as both a piece of ground for growing flowers, vegetables, and an area of fertile ground; as a verb, to make or work in a garden.

For me, nothing defines community and garden more than a communal work day. Gardeners work together toward common interests, creating and enhancing fertile ground both literally and figuratively. Tasks are shared out, “many hands making for light work” to use an adage my grandmother was fond of. Conversations are started, acquaintances made, the possibility for friendships opened. As the garden is weeded, watered, organized, and tidied, gardeners (the community!) gain a sense of investment and pride in their garden. It’s a wonderful process to watch and to partake of.

On Thursday, May 29th, the Northside Community Garden hosted its first work day. Brian Herbal, gardener and leadership committee member, said, “My favorite aspect was seeing such a great turn out and how everyone so easily set to task, we got a lot done. Was a very community feeling day with great accomplishment. Also everyone had time to work in their respective plots, and I think the garden is looking great.” Twenty gardeners joined in the communal tasks: turning compost, weeding, rock removal, apricot tree maintenance, and general organizing.

The compost crew added leaves and some kitchen scraps to the stage one pile, after turning the stage one into the stage two pile, and then two into the stage three pile. Some finished compost even got screened and is now ready for application onto plots. I heard gardener Ken say, “Those piles represent a lot of shovels full. We got a lot done!”

The communal potato, garlic, and onion patches were thoroughly weeded as well as the path running beside them. Gardener Karen focused her energy on path weeding and was very happy with the results, “That path is clear; it looks great.” Gardeners also worked on weeding the rhubarb plants and the food security plot.

Heavy lifting, one bucket full (or half full) at a time was accomplished by the rock crew. The edges and pathways of garden are cleared of wheel barrow stopping stones and ankle turning rocks. One of our youngest participants, two-year-old Fletcher, was delighted to help with the rock picking. Once he determined where the rock pile was, he wanted to lead everyone with a bucket to it. I must also say his help, and his mother Sarah’s, was much appreciated in digging sod from beneath the apricot tree. Another young gardener, seven-year-old Cooper, helped with adding mulch and sawdust underneath the apricot tree. In conversing with Cooper, I learned that while my gardening skills are passable, my computer game knowledge is seriously lacking!

As the evening wound down and group tasks were completed, people drifted to their individual plots to water, weed, and plant – the essence of maintaining the garden overall. As I left for home, gardener Sue continued to organize the unruly bunch of tomato cages, stakes, and miscellaneous gardening materials outside the shed.

Everyone’s efforts in the Northside Community Garden help to make the space beautiful and fruitful; everyone’s efforts help create a community of sharing fertile ground.