Tuesday, March 2, 2010


"One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support."
~Wendell Berry

Growing up on a modest 8 acres in rural Kansas, I have very fond memories of rising early in the morning to the smells of fresh-mowed grass and budding lilacs wafting through my open window. I would lie in bed, barely awake, enjoying the odorous splendors of spring, when a parent would throw open the door and bark, "It's after 10, put on some clothes and come help!"

That much land takes work. So Saturday mornings meant mowing, weeding, watering, whacking, what have you. I would sit cross-legged on the edge of our driveway, yawning, and delicately pull weeds from the flower beds. With three fingers pinched and two extended, I plucked each weed in the same manner one might use to lift their cup during high tea. My mother would laugh as she walked passed and call me "dainty," a word I still take offense to. At the time, I would have much rather been doing other things, anything really, than working in my mother's garden. But now, it's something I look back on as time I spent connecting with the earth and getting my hands a little (very little, actually) dirty.

Recently, I decided those were things I could use more of in my life. So I joined a community garden in South St. Louis City. It resides in an empty commercial lot in the Cherokee Street business district. The garden, called Cherokee Real, consists of raised beds that anyone can adopt and use to grow their own food. If I want to know my food, create a healthier relationship to it, growing it (and subsequently killing and devouring it) seems like a step in the right direction.

Last week everyone involved gathered at an arts center near the garden and planted seeds. I did not know this, but when you grow vegetables and flowers from seeds, you have to plant them in soil during the winter and keep them indoors to become sprouts before they go in the ground. I'm learning already.


We planted a huge amount of seeds that night for a number of plants: tomatoes, cauliflower, chili peppers, bell peppers, onions, carrots, melons, eggplant, lettuce and herbs, including lemongrass, basil, purslane, parsley, cilantro, chives, and much more. 


I'm very excited for our planting day later this month, as well as watching my food grow from seeds into plants. I know nothing substantial about gardening, so I've got a lot to learn. I can't wait to get my hands a lot dirtier this time around.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with your garden! I'm very excited to have expanded my back porch container garden into an actual plot last summer. I'm already excited for this spring's planting! I feel like I'm finally putting to good use those many hours and experiences I spend in my own parents' garden and flower beds (just like you)! And I'm also planning out my very own compost area! Look forward to more of your blogs!