|Volunteers put the finishing touches on Plot 48B|
And, also as I have written, I have to do my job with a light touch. A plot in the community garden may be a limited, sought-after town benefit; but having one ought to be fun. Having someone continually nag you to do something is definitely not ‘fun’ and, after a while, a gardener will say to himself or herself, ‘To hell with all this. I’m going to the Cape.’ If that happens enough times, I run out of people on the waiting list and plots begin growing up in weeds.
|It's a big garden - 76 gardeners in 70 plots|
In mid-June, I began to notice one garden was developing a weed problem. I sent an email. A week later, I had neither received a written response (‘sorry, I’m on vacation…’) nor did I see evidence of weeding. Another email went out. Still no reply.
|Plot 48B had grown up in weeds|
So, I did something I’ve done a handful of times: I put out a plea to help rescue the plot. In a simpler time (before March 2020), I would sent out my request to a dozen long-time gardeners with big hearts and open calendars. I would name a date and time, and expect enough of them to show up such that, in some fixed number of hours, we could correct whatever problem needed to be addressed. This year, social distancing made that impossible. Instead, I sent my request to the entire garden, telling everyone to do what they could on their own schedule, and to keep six feet apart in doing so.
At least 20 of the 76 gardeners responded. Each day, the garden showed tangible improvement. By this past Friday, I could write the plot holder and say, ‘I think you can do the rest. You have a lot of friends here.’ A few hours later, though, I received an unexpected reply: even with the reclamation, she would be unable to continue for this season. With regret, she was giving up her plot.
And, I had my own dirty little secret: by mid-July, no one wants to start gardening. It’s too damn hot and there’s not enough season remaining to grow the 'fun' crops. By mid-July, everyone who might have thought about gardening in April has made other plans.
Some stories have unexpected plot twists, and this is one of those. That same day I also received an email from one of our gardeners – a wonderful woman who is a professor at Wellesley College –wondering if surplus vegetables might be collected for a group of two dozen food-insecure international students remaining on campus for the summer. All on-campus food service had been shut down, supermarkets were miles away, and the students’ budgets were tight to non-existent.
|Except in 2020, we regularly put|
out bins for the Food Cupboard
This morning brought the final plot twist. As volunteers were putting the final touches on cleaning and re-planting the garden, yet another of our members came by to help out. She is on staff at Babson College in Wellesley. When she heard about the Wellesley College students, she said she had just been made aware of a similar number of international students at Babson who also face food insecurity until classes begin in September. Then, half an hour later, the lady who has long coordinated the community garden collection for the Food Cupboard, also dropped by and said, yes, the Food Cupboard bins are all available and will be in place for our use.
|A proud occupation|
when things like this
It is events like these that make being a garden ogre a proud occupation.
This afternoon I emailed everyone in the garden and told them they should take a bow. This is what a Community Garden is supposed to be about.