Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Garden is Built!

Well, after all that rain last week it was so wonderful to have the sun shining on us as we built the raised garden bed yesterday. It was hot--after all, we had to build the bed in the area with the most sun exposure, but it was worth it.

Keith and I arrived early to put the bed together before everyone else got there. Thankfully, Steven, a local carpenter, had cut the lumber up before we arrived. He also loaned us his power drill that was a bit more powerful than the one I had brought along, which helped to speed the work along. Gradually, out of that pile of wood, a garden bed emerged!

When The Food Project youth and staff and Front Porch participants arrived, we were ready to go! Our next task was to get that whole pile of stones across the lot to the garden bed, to provide good drainage for the plants. With shovels, a wheelbarrow, a lot of good-humored teamwork and lemonade, we did it.

Once the soil and compost were added we divided up the bed into square foot blocks and started the planting which everyone enjoyed. We planted carrots, beets, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes to start while learning what they are called in Russian and sometimes Italian at the same time. Each tomato plant was lovingly planted and surrounded by marigold seeds to help to keep away the bugs that can sometimes plague them. Everyone agreed that we would need more tomato plants for the tomato fans among us!

While doing all of this I was reminded of a wonderful movie I saw recently about the life of one real-life farmer: The Real Dirt on Farmer John. The film shows some of the many forces influencing farming and the risks involved, as well as the tremendous work and energy that go into growing our food.

Next Wednesday we'll be planting the rest of the garden with more tomatoes, pole-beans, peppers, basil, dill and parsley. Then we'll eagerly monitor our garden's progress.

I'm always humbled by the powers of nature when gardening like this--there is a sense of hope and expectation when each seed and plant are placed in the ground--we do what we can to give them the best chance and then we wait and see what happens. Gardening has many benefits-- including being more in control of the food we eat, to exercise and socializing. There is a real sense of accomplishment, too, when all goes well. The smiles on the faces of people planting yesterday said a great deal--even when we didn't always understand every word perfectly.