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!