Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Thing About The Garden . . .

One can go to the garden a little grumpy or in pain, with a headache or a resentment—and work one’s self back into peace.

That happened to me yesterday, suddenly, in the rhubarb.  Suddenly everything else was just gone and there I was sitting on the cool earth, enmeshed in the jewel tones of rhubarb, entranced by the beginning of autumn glimmerings on blueberry leaves, and the glory of the Jerusalem artichoke's crown of fall flowers.  I was suddenly just there, the sweet brisk fall air tickling my skin.  I was just there with Creation and rhubarb.  No more grumpiness, no more pain, no more headache, no more resentment.  I was back into peace.

Our first frost had visited the night before and these lovely stalks of rhubarb were tugged and twisted loose for the food bank.  Each stalk a gift.  A gift to me, in their simple beauty.  A gift to the food bank, and from there a gift to the precious people who depend on the food bank, who look to the food bank for something sweet they would otherwise never have.  My thoughts went to these precious people, some of them elderly, some of them disabled, some of them working long hours for low pay—supporting our economy and our elite yet not able to make ends meet.  My thought went to these precious people.

Rhubarb is seldom available in our stores and when it is, it is very expensive.  And here was this gift, fresh picked, organic, and loved.  Grown with love.  Given with love.  There certainly is not enough for everyone.  But not everyone loves rhubarb.  Our food bank is very special.  Customers get ‘points’ which they spend, they get to make choices.  And for some people that choice, today, will be rhubarb.  Sometimes rhubarb is more important than tuna fish or eggs.  Sometime the memory of the treat made from grandma’s garden is more nourishing than anything else can be.  And for some people, that is the gift that rhubarb can bring.

In many of our old cultures, our wealth was not counted by what we hoarded.  Our wealth was counted by what we gave.  Creation is the gift to us, which nurtures us.  Before we made up all this extraneous stuff, before people owned and controlled land, before they developed monetary systems that impoverished many and enriched few, before all that, everything we needed was a gift from Nature, from Creation, and the labor of our own hands.

My hands are not as young as they used to be.  But there are still a few hours of labor left in this aging body.  I can still weave myself back in to Creation, back into the garden, and I can still count myself wealthy as I find that I, and the garden, have something to give.  



If you would like to join us at Growing Together Community Gardens, we have a very few available garden beds; and we always welcome volunteers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Happy Families in the Garden!

Community gardens flourish in many states and towns all over our country, and in many other countries as well.  They are often looked at as a way to provide garden opportunities for people who don’t have yards; and in fact, this is often true, but they provide many other opportunities for those interested in gardening as well.  


Our own community garden draws sun-seeking members from people whose yards are shady; folks looking for temporary relief from deer, until they can get their deer fencing put in; new gardeners and gardeners new to the area; those who want to garden with others who may have more experience;   families who want to share in our community fruit plantings—which would take years to begin producing if planted at home; as well as those who have no space to garden.  There are many reasons to join a community garden. 

Gardening for the first time, or even for the first time in a new place, is a tremendous learning adventure.   Unless you have gardened on a riverine tidal mud flat before, you have probably never encountered soil like ours.  It’s good soil; but it can be challenging.  Maintaining proper soil moisture in the summer is a challenge all of its own.  And then there’s the weather.  Our cool summer nights and warm to hot days, interspersed with cool rainy weather, is hard on many plants. Our weather is also a perfect formula for fungal disease; which can be avoided or lessened without chemicals, but it presents another challenge.  As summer weather fades, long summer days give way to long winter nights, when the sun remains at a very low daytime angle.  While fall and early spring harvests can be bountiful, winter gardening is another challenge.  With so many challenges to overcome, it never hurts to start your gardening adventure alongside other gardeners who have at least a little more experience.  Social networking helps the world go around, even in the garden!

Garden Member, Blaire Jones, and her family have enjoyed the garden along with our other families, for many of the reasons mentioned above.   Blaire shared, “I really like learning about all the different kinds of plants in the garden, especially the fennel and other herbs that can be used in making food and tea.”  This has been her family’s very first experience with gardening.  They got a late start, faced some challenges with keeping the soil evenly moist and getting good seed germination, but they persevered and have a lovely crop of peppers and peas, with kale and carrots coming along for fall.    

Blaire’s children have been very excited to pick ripe berries and apples in the garden.  Blueberries, golden raspberries, and Aronia berries have been relished; and Aronia berries and apples have made their way home for snacks and smoothies.  The children have helped with general garden chores, and with planting and tending the family’s garden bed as well. “My kids have enjoyed planting seeds and then picking their own produce, which tastes much better than what you can buy from the store.”  As Blaire attests, gardening is a great way to encourage children to eat fresh fruits and veggies.  Visiting the garden becomes a magical treasure hunt, with delicious morsels as the prize.  

Blaire and London are our happy garden stars.  Sharing the garden with children definitely reminds us to take delight in the sweet and simple pleasures that only gardening can bring.


Visitors and volunteers are welcome at the garden!  We are located on the corner of Water and Adams Streets in South Bend WA.  We are currently open Tuesdays between 3:00PM and 5:30 PM and Saturdays from 10:30 AM until at least 11:30 AM (rain cancels).  Saturday times will remain the same through fall and winter; however, as the days get colder and shorter, Tuesday’s hours will shift a few hours earlier.  We have a very a short waiting list for prospective new members.  If you are interested in the idea of planting fall greens, roots, or garlic, time is of the essence.   For more information, please contact the coordinator, Harvest McCampbell, (360) 934-5792 or (707) 834-2985.


Published in the Willapa Harbor Herald on  10.5.16, reprinted here with permission.  All rights reserved. 


Note to readers:   I have been the coordinator of Growing Together Community Gardens for about a year and a half.  It keeps me very busy.  :)  You can check out our photos and posts on our facebook page.   Thanks!