When asked what she likes about working in the community garden at her church, Elise, who is a member of the St. George, Pickering Village youth group, says, “I’m only in it for the beetroot!” That’s because her grandmother’s recipe for beetroot is one of her favourite dishes. Until this summer, Elise didn’t know how beets grow, but now she’s watching a whole row growing in the parish’s new community garden.
Elise, her sister Marissa and their friend Jess came the first night, when the community moved 40 cubic yards to create the beds – and got blisters to show for it. Since then, they’ve been regulars in the garden, coming to help with the planting and watering. Their mother Michelle says she’s pleased they’re taking part. “I want the girls to know where their food comes from, that farmers work hard to produce it,” she says.
“I learned that you can use straw on the plants and keep the water in,” says Marissa, who’s excited to taste the watermelons she helped plant.
For me, the best part has been working together safely after months of youth group meetings and church online. I never realized how good a conversation can be when you’re thinning radishes. And there’s so much to learn – how to sew seed, plant seedlings and hill potatoes, about pollinators and companion planting. All the gardeners have some wisdom to share, and we’re blessed with some very experienced folks. The best joy is being outside, working together in touch with the earth, having neighbours stop by to ask what we’re doing, and inviting them in.
I don’t expect we’ll have a bumper crop this year because of a late start. But that doesn’t matter. We’re working together, we’re growing food and looking forward to sharing it with others, we’re meeting our neighbours. We’re grateful for the Reach Grant that got us started, the work of many hands, the blessings of sunshine and seed and rain. The best part is the genuine excitement that happens when we gather to work in the garden, look down the rows and see how much everything has grown.