Another Day of Sowing

Today was an amazing day for planting the spring garden at school. We're starting to develop some really great partnerships, making plans to make the garden a permanent part of the school, and I'm feeling well supported by my administration and coworkers. And on top of that, it was a gorgeous day. One of the many ways that this venture of connecting with the dirt has changed me is that I notice weather and growth around me in a new way. Like last night when our minds went directly to our fragile little seeds reaching for life right below the surface of the dirt when a torrential storm blew through and water started pouring in through our back door (which hasn't been the same since the fellow who helped himself to all of our electronics back in August kicked it in). Luckily, the raised beds hadn't washed away and we even have arugula sprouting in the Rosedale garden! But all that to say, maybe February has always been like this, but I can't remember Spring ever arriving in such force so early! A week of above 70 temperatures and sunshine, it's amazing. I'm sure it will get cold again before Spring is here to stay, but I'm soaking it up while we can.

Eight elementary classes came out to help me plant! We'll have to do a lot of thinning, but it was worth it. I can't wait to see how floored they are when the seeds they planted start to sprout. I taught them my technique of praying for the little guys as we tuck them into the soil. When I told them that only God can make seeds grow a K5er exclaimed "Are you for real!?" like it was the most earth-shattering thing he had heard all day. I'm  also meditating on the seeds in their hearts, that truly only God can make grow. Never mind feeling that lack of control with our vegetable sowing, it takes so much trust to rest in the truth that God is the one who changes hearts and he is in control. I'm so thankful that He is good.

The science teacher was kind enough to snap some photos for me. But my today my camera, a Canon EOS Digital Reble, won't turn on! HELP! I charged the battery, and have tried turning it on and off, taking the battery out, etc. No luck. Any ideas?

Just please look at the stink eye I'm getting from the left as I give 2nd grade the low down.

A worm!!

Middle schoolers helping me solarize the third bed that must have had a lot of weed seed mixed in to the soil. Hopefully this will do the trick!


The Graduate

The wise gaze of a puppy class graduate. We decided to invest in taking Paul to obedience classes, and they have been well worth it. After some major setbacks due our week-long absence over Christmas (several trashcans full of things he chewed, and a nice fresh pee spot on our bed waiting for us when we got home), we felt intervention was called for. Probably the most valuable thing we got out of it was an hour a week of focused time training him; our attention spans are really more lacking at home than his. Paul struggles with being very easily distracted, but when we have his attention, he's a star! He passed his final exam today on sit, lay down, loose leash walking, stay, and come when called--a big relief for his "parents"--especially since last week he let the fishtanks get the best of him and we couldn't even get him to sit. He also made some pals in the class. For Paul and Deuce, a friendly Great Dane in the class, it was BFFs at first sight. Here are all his cuddly classmates: Deuce, Sam, and Tank.


Planting Seeds

Almost a year ago Keith lost his job as an accountant as at a small business. It was his second time losing his job since we were married in 2008 and needless to say it was a pretty discouraging blow. At the same time, stirring beneath the sting of disappointment and uncertainty (we had just signed a contract to buy our house two weeks before), we sensed an excitement at so tangibly being in the grip of God's graceful hands as he held us and guided us one day at a time. We continued praying for guidance, specifically as to what the future held for Keith's career. Was he being called to something other than accounting? If so, what? It was overwhelming to think about.

Right around the same time I started interning at Jones Valley Urban Farm, just because I thought it would be a cool way to spend the summer off. When Keith found himself with an unexpected summer off as well, he joined me. The more time we spent on the farm, learning and enjoying the process of growing vegetables, the more we felt our hearts being drawn to invest in the dirt for more than just the summer. We were so blessed by the beauty of the whole cycle and the friendships we developed over hot days weeding and harvesting in the field. By the end of the summer Keith was working on the farm building the children's garden. We still had no idea what the future held, but we had a strong feeling that it would involve growing things.

In the fall some friends of ours told us about a non-profit working with youth in Rosedale, a historic neighborhood in Homewood. They  heard that the founder wanted to start a community garden and thought Keith might be interested in talking to him. I'll try not to make a long story too long and fast forward a bit. In December Keith began working with Simon Cyrene full time, building a community garden and working with the neighborhood kids through a program called Nehemiah's Quest. In addition to an existing program in which 50 kids ages 10-18 work to improve vacant lots and properties in the neighborhood every other Saturday, we're developing a more time-intensive program for the summer that will involve high schoolers in caring for the garden, processing the produce and selling it at the local farmers market, distributing baskets of produce to Seniors in the neighborhood, and learning about nutrition.

All that to say, today was a big day. After a couple weeks of working hard to build the raised beds and get the dirt in, today we planted our first seeds! With each seed dropped into the ground I said a prayer. It's so humbling--the seeds are SO small, and though you will work hard to care for them well, you can't help but know that you really are not in control here. 

A few garden details for those who are interested: Today for our earliest planting we planted spinach, mustard greens, salad mix (a combination of baby salad greens), arugula, beets, turnips, carrots, and radishes. We planted onions from starts we ordered from Johnny's Seeds (where we get all our seeds) because onions take a LONG time to grow from seed and can be tricky. We'll plant broccoli and lettuce indoors this week to transplant later in March. 

I'm planting similar things with my students in the Cornerstone garden this week, hopefully more pictures to  come!