I have been gardening for the better part of 60 years, since I was big enough to walk to the garden and put seeds in the ground, I sometimes forget that young people don’t get that same opportunity these days. When I was 4 years old, my dad would break a little stick the length he wanted between seeds and tell me how many to put at the end of the stick. I distinctly recall putting 4 corn kernels at the end of the stick, pick up the stick and put it down again and place 4 more kernels; row after row until there were at least 4 rows. When daddy hoed that corn, I was right along side him with my little hoe digging up the weeds.
What brought all this to mind was that this last week we hosted students from Earlham College who were on their freshman weekend of service. When we were weeding the small fruit garden, I had to give a hand’s on lesson about what were weeds and what were plants.
On the other hand, one of the young men whose home was in the greater Atlanta area told me that there were 7 acres behind his home. Part of that was a community garden and part was where a man from his church grew produce for moms and children on WIC. What a cool idea: more fresh produce for low income children and their families!
As the days wore on, the students became more adept at the work. One group used the wheel cultivator to make rows for potatoes and cabbages. Then they planted the potatoes they had cut up. They also built a raised bed for herbs in front of the newly renovated greenhouse.
One of the impromptu humorous moments of the week was when the young man from Brooklyn, NY said with some consternation, “This dirt is so, uh, so dirty!” I smiled and said “Yes, isn’t it great? Dirt is so magical.”
By Daphne Gooding