Inside the hoop house at the Green & Gold Garden.

The Dirty Hands Diary, Vol. 1

Just like the life forms below the surface, volunteers work in symbiotic harmony

By Margaret Milner

It’s planting season at the Green & Gold Garden and the first Tuesday-evening volunteer shift of the year. I’ve been planting onion seedlings and bulbs with a new volunteer. As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, she comes over to say goodbye. “Thank you for tonight. It feels so good to get my hands dirty again!”

I ponder that as I look at my own hands, blackened with soil from separating onion seedlings soaked in a worm casing solution we use to support growth. I wave goodbye as my three-year-old grandchild, who is sitting beside me in a brightly flowered sun hat pushing a small wheelbarrow full of onion bulbs, says, “That’s how I know I am a gardener. I have dirty hands too!” He holds his soiled hands up for inspection (his face is almost as dirty).

I contemplate this idea of getting my hands “dirty” in the garden. I reach out and bury my hands in the garden soil – it feels cool and damp and I am reminded of the millions of life forms living in its depths. These dirty hands are my connection to the land and I feel my spirits lift another notch as I contemplate what it means to be part of something bigger than myself. It feels good to be back working within a vibrant community whose collective efforts support Tubahumarize, an organization that supports women and children in Rwanda.

As I look around, I can hear my grandchildren puttering alongside each other and my daughter and son-in-law chatting while they plant onion bulbs. We are the last ones in the garden tonight (as is often the case). We always have so much trouble leaving here. It is such a peaceful place. I can hear a pair of geese honking as they fly overhead and am reminded of the flocks of sandhill cranes that flew overhead last Saturday afternoon. I gaze out to the garden plots with their raised beds and joining pathways that shape the landscape of the garden. We are realizing the fruits of last year’s labour as we worked to reengineer this beautiful space. I can see the hoop house in the orchard, the permanent pathways creating a mosaic that gives the garden structure, and the sprayer heads of our underground irrigation system. Lying here and there are the amazing tools that help us grow such healthy food – spring rakes and wire weeders, our homemade dibbler, and the carts we  use for hauling things out to the garden plots. Just like the life forms below the surface, our volunteers work in symbiotic harmony, feeding the land and our gardening souls.

We are a small but mighty team out here at the Green & Gold Community Garden. Come check us out. We are out Tuesday mornings (10 a.m -12 p.m.), Tuesday evenings (6 – 8 p.m.) and Saturdays (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.). Who knows – you might even get your hands dirty! To see where we are located, visit greengoldgarden.com

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