For several years I have been taking walks to a local park with the dog and the baby, and we frequently walk down 19th Street past the SESNA Community Garden. I couldn’t help but peek in at the beautiful flowers and vegetables and wonder how I might get involved in it, and finally last week I went all the way onto the property and read the white board on the door of the shed, which listed volunteer work days on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. So I made a note on my calendar and headed down there yesterday morning to see if I could help out.
The SESNA (South-East Salem Neighborhood Association) Community Garden, as the name implies, is a cooperative effort of the community. Members of the neighborhood work in partnership with the Capital Park Wesleyan Church and the Marion-Polk Food Share to provide sustainably-grown produce to our community, half of which is donated to the food share and the remainder goes home with volunteer workers. Space is also made available to neighbors for private garden plots, for the unheard-of bargain of $20 for the whole year, water and tools included. While helping out yesterday, I learned there are some 30 gardens in Salem with a similar relationship to Marion-Polk Food Share, a much greater number than I ever would have supposed and one that speaks to a greatly increased interest in sustainable gardening in urban settings. My personal interest in gardening has seen a parallel surge this summer: In these uncertain economic times, I find great comfort in the prospect of making my family’s food sources both more nourishing and self-reliant, as well as pennywise, and even better if I can help provide these benefits simultaneously to families in more dire circumstances than my own.
I didn’t feel like I was able to help out all that much yesterday. My gardening skills are currently limited to weeding, for the most part, so I tackled some morning-glory infestations in a few small raised beds. However, I think that volunteering here will be a great way to get some hands-on experience for my own garden project next year (some of which may well be located on a community plot), so hopefully soon I will able to be of more assistance and less distraction. 🙂 In any case, I had a great time. It was a gorgeous day, and I met some great people, nearly all of whom live within mere blocks of me. And I came home with lively collard greens, a small pumpkin, and some seeds harvested from deadheading chives and sage.
All of this makes me wish that I had summoned up the courage to find out more about our community garden much sooner—the summer growing season will be over in the next month or two, and I plan to head back for every remaining work day. I may even purchase a plot to try overwintering some vegetables. I would love to hear about your community garden experiences, and if you haven’t already looked into this opportunity, I would highly recommend that you seek out community gardens in your own area. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
This post is linked up with Simple Lives Thursday.