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02 June 2009

Food of the Earth

The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

This spring I was lucky enough to get a garden plot in the PSU community garden. I got the last plot. My luck turned out to be a mixture of missed emails, turnover in the community garden coordinator position and my good-natured persistence. Turns out the person who had the plot previously had dropped out of school, but had already weeded and prepped the garden plot, leaving me with much less preparation.

So of course, I can't go this alone, I gotta share the love right? I spread the word around my office to see if anyone is interested. Turns out 5 others have the gardening bug, too! It's worked out really good. Over the course of a week or so we got quite a good collection going of plants - tomatoes, kale, marigolds (won at a conference). Then we got $ donations from others in the office and a trip down to the farmer's market added more tomatoes, chives, eggplant, peppers and cucumbers.

Planting day arrived and we trudged down to the garden toting our boxes and bags of veggie starts. Working together, on our knees and in our work clothes, as we planted we discussed ideas for care of the plants, where to put each plant, what else we needed, exchanged knowledge of previous gardening experiences and agreed we'd split up the week amongst eachother to divvy out watering duties. I really enjoy watering duty.

It's the anticipation as I walk or drive to the garden, wondering how it is doing and growing. Then it's the excitement once I arrive to view what has happened since I was there last. Early in the season, what captures my attention is the minute yet incredible growth of each baby plant and seeing the basil and bush bean seeds finally sprout through the dirt. The progress of each plant is captivating. This weekend there were two little green tomatoes on the baby vine and bees busily pollinating the flowers.

As I water, I get lost in my thoughts and as I weed and fix up the hills and moats, I feel grounded and content with my hands in the dirt. I remind myself that I need to get onions going and more chives. Eventually it's obvious there is nothing else for me to do there, even though I was in a hurry in the beginning, I now don't want to leave. After one last look, I say good bye and leave the garden, locking the gate behind me. It's going to be fun being a gardener of edibles. Plus it's good practice because I have a huge plot on a waiting list for next year at a community garden near our house. Every step is the way and takes me a little closer to my ultimate goal of eating my own home grown.

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