Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Garden, Ask What Your Garden Can Do For Others (March 3 Garden Project)
Years ago friends and I rented a cabin for a weekend on the Fox lakes. I trailered my dad’s boat up and we hung out for the weekend, doing a little waterskiing, a little fishing. Much of the weekend is forgotten. I cling to one moment.
It was a cool evening and we took the boat out for a ride. Just buzzing around the lake in the falling light and cool air. It was summer but you needed a fleece jacket. I looked back at Rachel. She looked colder than the rest of us, wrapping her arms around herself, but she definitely did not care. There was a smile on her face that said all her daily worries and stress were being drawn away by the boat ride through the chill air, by the outdoors, by the unstructured time with friends. I will never forget that relaxed, peaceful, thankful look.
I would like to suggest that a garden can do the same. That hard work and fresh air and being surrounded by like-minded people can pull the plug on the stress and strain we carry around. That it can soothe and heal. And that like taking a friend for an exhilarating boat ride, you can take people to your garden for the same effect. I’ve had moments this season in the garden when I truly relaxed. (You can read about one here: Community Supported By Agriculture.) This past weekend Ellen and I saw how we can give that gift to others. Who knew you could tap your friends for garden labor and be doing them a favor at the same time?
My landless friends Kirk and Marianna had offered a few times to come help in the garden and I finally took them up on it. It was time to do some fall cleanup and also – very exciting – we’re building a hoop house in the hopes that we can keep things growing through the winter. So there was plenty to do this past weekend and they were great help. Thinking back on it, Ellen had this to say:
“This is what I wanted for the garden, community more than food. It is why I kept telling Kirk to just take stuff. Because for me, the community was the thing and his joy just made the community better. I eat great food (at restaurants), food better than we can even grow. I want to share.”
I’ve learned a lot from the garden this year and most of it is not about gardening. It is about friends and family. I have lots of friends who inquire about the garden. Looking around at the way we’ve been eating as a society, that is hopeful to me. I have friends who want to come visit the garden and see the chickens. I have new friends because of the garden, namely Ellen. My parents are gardening, I think in part inspired by our garden. And apparently there is a need deep down in my friends to get involved, to get dirty, to feed themselves with food and fresh air.
All I can say to that is “Yipee!” and look, here are my friends…and the bones of our hoop house!