A Garden in the Harbor
The temps were icy and thoughts of gardening were a toasty spot in my frozen brain. Our January guest speaker was promoting community gardens. It sounded worth while. By the time February rolled around, some of us had heard a radio spot about a grass roots movement asking everyone to "Plant a row of for the needy". No money involved, just you - your garden - and some folks in the Ozarks who need fresh food. Something so simple, so easy and potentially so productive. We set out to locate our local food banks and verify the needs of Stone and Taney County residents. During a conversation with the administrator for the food bank at Christian Associates of Table Rock Lake, she said "Its odd you called right now. We've been talking about starting a garden here. Did someone call you?" I replied no one had called me, I was calling to see what they needed. We talked and events took a totally different turn.
Christian Associates does many things for the needy in our community. Harbor House is a shelter for battered women. Clients range in age from the very young with small children to seniors. A meeting was had with the ladies and it was decided we would make a garden.
The terrain is a challenge. Asphalt within a 10 foot high fence. The women are very security conscious, so we had to stay in the confines of that fence. We decided to try Square Foot Gardening because of its compact, above ground containers which can produce much food in a small area. Dieter, my husband, and I set out to facilitate the gardeners. Untreated wood was culled from construction sites. An electrician we know offered to donate and bend metal pipes to attach to the boxes for vertical growth. A good source for the growing medium was found. We went to the community for donations of money and seeds. The boxes were built, buckets were found ,the soil was ready and it was time to meet at Harbor House to put in the garden.
I almost cried when the boxes were in place and the lids came off the containers of soil. One of the women plunged her hands into the bucket, letting the particles trickle through her fingers as she smelled the aroma wafting in the air. "Oh, my God. I didn't know if I would ever smell this again!" She was laughing and so were two more. The new gardeners didn't get it. But you and I do. Talk of gardens past and favorite flowers and the difference between the flavor of a home grown and store bought vegetable went on through the afternoon. We planted too early in May and lost some things, but as you can see, by June 15th , we were on track! Actually, there were radishes consumed the first week of June.
The Harbor House Garden has 14 2x4 boxes and various containers. The women of Harbor House maintain the garden and I continue to make sure they have what they need. Our hope is to not only supply Harbor House with produce, but to perhaps donate to the food bank as well.
I believe we all know gardening is cathartic for most of us. The project has created a symbiotic relationship. We all learn from each other. New ways and old ways mesh for better growth in the garden. For some, their thoughts are more positive and redirected. The thrill of anticipation has sprouted and now grows bright in a gloomy world. As for me.....sometimes I drive by and know just where to look to see my girls. They are sitting out on the side walk in front of the door nearest the gardens. It reminds me of sitting on the porch with my granny watching the garden grow. I am no fool. I am getting so much more from doing this than I can ever give back.
If this sounds corny.....IT IS!! Happy Gardening and remember to plant a row for the needy.