Our three sisters garden grew so well at Laura and Dustin’s place (thanks the massive rotten carp we planted beneath the corn) that it was sad to see it wilt and die back as summer ended. Months of weeding, thinning, and staking have unearthed big sweet carrots, spicy little radishes, sweet peas, succulent squash and small but mostly happy tomatoes. The ruthless and barbaric portulaca (that sometimes required two hands and a firm foothold to yank out) was most definitely the year’s biggest challenge. But we plan, with insatiable optimism to expand the garden two-fold for next year.And it didn’t feel like work at all…not really. With the company of friends and the comfortable soundtrack of chirruping birds, a cat in heat and philosophical conversations about angel readings, the garden sort of took care of itself. It’s much better to garden together- we get so much more done together- together our garden community thrives and as a result, so do we.
Speaking of community gardens, I was lucky enough a few months ago to have a tour of some of the City of Brandon’s Community Gardens for an article I was writing. There are eight plots around the Wheat City where green and perhaps not-so-green thumbs can dig around in the earth, help something tasty to grow and then enjoy the fruits of their labors. While each gardener may only have one little plot to call their own, they work alongside one another and in doing so, grow so much more than just vegetables. Community gardens are places to share ideas, share enthusiasm and build friendships.
Blake Hamilton is an organic gardener and chair of the Community Garden Network in Brandon. He met me incognito at the Hummingbird gardens to show the girls and I first hand just how the community gardens system works. Blake was a wealth of knowledge and with quirky garden nerdery and a zainy pooch named Pinta, he showed me around the gardens, pointing out which plants were native to the prairies and which ones many gardeners harvest like crops en mass all the while sharing bits and bites of delicious greenery with me and the girls. There was so much delicious information but what I learned overall was what my own garden experimentation had taught me already (albeit on a much grander scale)- gardens and community just go together. And so now, as gardening season comes to an end and I am starting to feel to allure of the couch and a great book, I am grateful for the time our extended garden family has had together. Gardening friends with benefits, whose sum far outmeasures it’s component parts.