With renewal of spring garden growth comes the promise of a stronger community. Gardening is once again gaining popularity, not just as a relaxing pastime, but as a tool that communities have at their disposal to help them grow strong, independent, food secure, and beautiful.
When groups of folks get together to build gardens we learn from each other, we get to know each other, and we make our lives more sustainable with every seed planted. Neighbors working together routinely turn blank sod grass lawns, and empty city lots into organic food producing, eco-system enhancing gardens.
The time for this kind of transformation is ripe in American life. As food and health care costs grow, the need for inexpensive access to healthy organically grown food is more and more apparent. Suddenly folks throughout urban areas are realizing that their sod lawns aren’t doing anybody any favors, and that the time for change is upon us.
We’re not in this life alone. The planet acts as a whole living system. The health of each part of the planet is dependent on the health of the whole planet. Due to global climate change it’s become apparent that we’ve got to stop pretending that we’re the only important creature here. It’s not only time to grow our own communities, but those communities of wilderness that we’ve been a part of removing and keeping at bay for so many years.
When we honor the land that we live on by planting native species, when we honor the planet we live on by growing our own food as close to home as possible, and when we teach each other how to do these things, we share vibrant sustainable lives.
Gardening For Generations
My mom taught me to garden when I was a kid. I’m grateful to her every day for sharing with me that gift of knowledge and experience that her folks handed down to her. Just like the planting of seeds, it’s amazing what can grow from seemingly tiny experiences. Momma raised me right, and now I get to garden with my son and pass on this gift once again.
This spring Giving Tree Gardens and Little Earth of United Tribes collaborated together to give the gift of gardening to a group of neighborhood kids. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we met together to learn about seed balling and three sisters plantings. The kids made seed balls out of clay and compost then worked seeds of corn, beans, and squash into the middle of the balls before planting them in the ground. The little gardeners all took home three sisters seed balls that they made that day so that this traditional native planting combination will grow up all season in front of their homes while they can come harvest later in the season from the educational garden that they’ve helped to install just south of the Seward Co-op’s parking lot.
It's Raining Volunteers!
For the last three years, Russ Henry, owner of Giving Tree Gardens has had the pleasure of working with the Seward Co-op Grocery and Deli in designing gardens for their new site. Through a community involved design process, the folks at the co-op decided to install a massive rain-garden as a part of the landscape. When the co-op asked Giving Tree to come up with a plan for filling this space, we were ready to start creating habitat! The co-op’s plans for the space were propelled by the efforts of the good folks at Seward Redesign through their seeking of a grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.
With this grant in place, the co-op was ready to move forward with their rain-garden plans, and Giving Tree Gardens was ready to start creating habitat for birds and butterflies.
About a month before the installation of the rain-garden was slated to begin, some Seward neighborhood residents, local gardening activists, and co-op members contacted Giving Tree Gardens to see if they could help install the rain-gardens they were hearing so much about through the neighborhood. These folks all independently expressed the same sentiments, they all wanted to learn about rain-gardening, and they all wanted to be a part of something beautiful. Giving Tree Gardens was honored by this request, and we busily set to work organizing to have neighborhood volunteers come help install a garden at their co-op and learn about earth friendly landscaping habits at the same time. We at Giving Tree Gardens are proud to have been a part of this amazing community effort. Our hearts are out, and hats are off to all the folks it took to get this garden
in the ground!
Now I don’t know about you, but when my friends and I get together we like to eat! What better way for us to plan for a season of parties and abundance then to plant a food garden together in the spring? Early this season, I invited friends over to help get rid of some useless sod grass, and replace it with what I like to call our salad bowl garden. We dug in a rain garden basin in a low spot in the lawn, used the excavated soil to build small berms on the sides of the basin, and planted the whole thing with salad greens, herbs, potatoes, decorative shrubs, and native rain-garden suitable plants. In the three weeks since planting already I feel behind in the salad green harvest. I guess it’s time to throw a party!
When we work together we accomplish so much. Gardening is among the most readily available tools we have to start healing our communities and growing ourselves stronger. Life in the garden is peaceful, to be part of a vibrant gardening community makes this gardener feel at home.