by Grace Armstrong
Writing & Social Media Volunteer Intern
photos by Katie Culbertson
Art Volunteer Intern
Hello, fellow gardeners! I’m the new writing and social media intern for the George Fox Community Garden (the blonde one in the picture below!) For me personally, my connection to food has really grown over the past few years. As a young adult, the transition from my parents’ expansive pantry and assortment of kitchen gadgets to living on my own has not been a speedy process. Learning the balance of healthy eating and efficient shopping isn’t easy. Throwing away greens I couldn’t eat on time hurt my pocketbook.
The more I tweaked my strategies, the more I realized: I just didn’t have the basic knowledge of real, fresh food. Yes, I could make a box of macaroni and cheese without even measuring out the ingredients. I knew how long to microwave a burrito. Now, I wanted to know about real food— what’s really in season, and where does my food come from? What exactly is “organic,” anyway?
This is what led me to research food subsidies, factory farming, sustainable agriculture, and local farms in my area. Eventually, I found myself connected to the people here at the community garden, who are some of the most kind and lovely people I’ve ever met. I’m so grateful to be involved in the community garden this year, and look forward to sharing weekly updates, recipes, interviews, and all things garden-related here on our blog!
As the garden has grown, we have been able to shift our focus a little bit from nurturing plants to also nurturing a community space. We’ve started meeting regularly since the school year ended, and inviting community members to volunteer at the garden. Over the past six months, we’ve worked hard moving locations across town, to a larger and more permanent gardening space. (I’ll post updates on how we made that move in the near future).
Since we’ve recently moved our entire garden to a new space, our first community garden day of the summer involved a lot of preparation work—but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have any fresh veggies to snack on! We continued the chore of laying cardboard over the grass and spreading an even layer of bark chips on top, expanding three sides of the garden by a couple feet each. The cardboard and mulch technique prevents the grass from sprouting up again so quickly, and keeps weeds at bay. We can then add new beds to the garden as we have time and space.
But all work and no play means half the fun has gone away, so trust me when I say we took plenty of opportunities to goof off last Saturday afternoon. Have you ever heard of Mort Garson’s album “Plantasia”? Well, neither had most of us. Full of early-80s Moog synthesizer and written to be played for growing plants, track titles include “Rhapsody In Green,” “Symphony For A Spider Plant,” and “You Don’t Have To Walk A Begonia.” And yes, we did play the entire album while spreading bark chips and interpretive-dancing through the garden beds.
The garden gathering ended with our first harvest on the new land: generous handfuls of fresh, buttery-sweet spinach for all of us. Exhausted but happy, we took a moment to really savor the flavor of our first fruits together. To say it tasted better than grocery store spinach is a huge understatement. I planned on using mine for a salad later that night…but of course, it didn’t even last the car ride home (well, except for in my stomach).