By Josh McGuire & Tim Villard, Garden Educators from The Kitchen Community
Gardening can be a lot of work – actually strike that – gardening IS a lot of work, especially when first starting out. There is soil to be amended, holes to be dug, plans to be made about where and when to plant, notes to take, seeds to procure, weeds to pull, etc. So why do all that work when we could just go to the local grocery store? Well, let’s ask two gardeners, both at different places in their life, why they decided to devote both their personal and professional time to the act of growing food.
Name: Josh McGuire
Marital Status: Married
Garden Location: Back Yard
I started gardening simply because it was one small way I could lead a ‘solutions’ based life. I also saw it as a way of grounding myself (literally and figuratively). Gardening allows me to integrate myself deeper in the fabric of the natural systems to which we are all apart. Oh yeah, there was that whole food thing too; the palate enhancing pleasure derived from so much delicious, amazing varieties of fruits and vegetable I had never tried before.
Since my first foray into gardening, my reasons for continuing to devote time and energy to the practice of turning my backyard into a food oasis has increased in both depth and scope. The advent of my first child, Eden (fitting right?), gave me a new perspective on gardening and its importance. I am privy, whether for better or worse, to the woes of our ever changing world in regards to our natural resources and the challenges that my daughter, and her brand new sibling, will face in the coming decades. But, as I watch my 19-month old daughter wander into the garden and realize that she has learned to pick ripe, red, cherry tomatoes straight from the plant, I feel I am planting the seeds for her to know at least one way in which she too can participate in solutions. She too, is feeling what it’s like to combine the ethereal with Earthly through the simple act of tasting a ripe tomato straight from the vine.
There is also the added benefit of knowing that I am feeding my family with the most nutrient dense, organic food possible. I know exactly, down to the square inch where all the food came from. I know that the holes in the leaves came from flea beetles, that next year I might not trellis the squash, that this variety of lettuce held up to the Colorado heat really well, that my daughter LOVES anise hyssop leaves, and that nature is the best teacher, even if she is a bit harsh sometimes.
Name: Tim Villard
Marital Status: Single
Garden Location: Community Garden
My first endeavor gardening as an adult, took place several years ago during college before I left New Hampshire. It came about as a social endeavor with a friend I was living with, but it left no particular impact other than ‘that fun thing we did that summer.’ My real passion for growing came to fruition after I arrived in Colorado and found myself in unfamiliar territory with very few recognizable people or places. Realizing I was likely to stay in the area but move between apartments, I secured a plot in a Community Garden in an effort to create some consistency while shifting between Craigslist rooms.
What I have found in this Community Garden is a representation of and interaction with a better picture of the local people than I have found in any other scenario. It is the intersection between multi-generational locals next to new immigrants, and multiple languages and rich cultures. We find common ground showing up to the same place each year armed with the same basic tools and subject to the same environmental blessings and curses. It is a level playing field where ideas, experiences, and advice are readily exchanged between people who would otherwise rarely interact. This space has shaped my experience of my home like no other has. I wouldn’t trade it or give it up.
Aside from the social and cultural value I get from growing food in a Community Garden, this is a practical hobby that I would not continue if it did not improve my life on a financial, and directly practical level. Each year the garden has paid for itself through the production of high quality fruits and vegetables. With this upcoming growing season on the horizon – my third season in the Community Garden – I am focusing on growing a consistent supply of greens, roots, herbs, and fruits. I provide myself with fresher, higher quality, organic vegetables of my favorite varieties that typically I would not justify purchasing or, for some, they flat out are not available in stores. Starting to see my vision? Year three is going to be the best season yet and if we are feeling inclined to look at the trajectory, year five and onwards are guaranteed to be delicious!