April started off with our first plant pick up of the year. I stood under a bare tree with swollen buds just hinting at the growth to come as I directed cars onto the farm for our first plant pick up. Volunteers for our backyard gardening program came together that early spring day and made quick work of dividing plants for each other. Beautifully grown plant starts were cut into clusters ordered by each gardener. We worked together to measure and cut landscape fabric, dole out the right number of landscape fabric pins, and measure out fertilizer for each gardener. The work would have taken hours if not for the help of many hands. A lesson known to gardeners the world over.
Our gardeners gathered many times throughout the month. We had our first cooking class as the leaves on the trees began to unfurl. The group lamented early setbacks in their gardens while chopping vegetables. Some of the second year gardeners would chime in with helpful ideas they’d learned from their own attempts the year before. The gardeners left with recipes to use with produce from their gardens, full bellies, and deeper connections with each other.
As the month seemed to begin racing towards summer it was time to gather volunteers again to help divide summer seeds. By now the leaves on the trees are getting bigger, helping to relieve the spring sun’s intensity and warmth. Under the dappled shade we gathered to parcel out seed potatoes and seed orders for all of our backyard gardeners. As the mockingbird shared songs in the crepe myrtle, volunteer gardeners got to sharing too. How we all came to be here, together, connected by seeds, food and the land.
Our backyard gardeners have many different experiences and they come to be in this place in many different ways. Yet, just like with the trees that have watched our efforts over the past month, they grow stronger together. Our program is measured in pounds and pecks harvested, what is harder to measure is the friendships and community that is built in between. Just as trees grow better together, communicating in various ways with their neighbors, our gardeners grow better together as well. Sharing wisdom from their own gardens and kitchens, bringing a wealth of knowledge from all kinds of backgrounds. It is a joy to see the year start with budding friendships and emerging gardens alike.