Dirty Hands Diaries – July 4, 2023

by | Jul 4, 2023 | Dirty Hands Diaries | 0 comments

First Garden Market

We have been anticipating our first day of sales at the Green & Gold Community Garden. For me, it started the night before as my spouse and I headed out after dinner so he could cut the grass as we welcomed customers back for our 15 th season. I spent time in the fresh pick area doing succession planting – lettuce and dill today. We plant many crops such as carrots, lettuce, spinach, dill, radishes at regular intervals throughout the growing season. There is a rhythm to bed preparation – light till to break up the surface soil, spread compost, blood meal, and diatomaceous earth, top with potting soil from our friends at Strathcona Microgreens, fork lightly to loosen soil and make space for root growth, spring rake to smooth the bed, plant seeds using the Jang or Earthway seeder. As I sit back to admire the neat rows I have created, I feel the energy of the garden reaching out, drawing life in as we prepare for market day – a murder of crows cawing as they swoop into the orchard; human walkers stopping by to ask questions, mosquitoes buzzing in my ears.

Market day starts with a small group of volunteers doing yoga. As we warm up our aging bodies, volunteers trickle in greeting one another while garden babies squeal with delight as they arrive with their parents in tow. On garden market days, picking produce is the top priority so I head out to pull spring garlic with a small entourage. We’ve had lots of much needed rain so muddy soil clings to the bulbs that are surprisingly bigger than we imagined. One of the garden children falls over backward as he helps pull the garlic bulbs. We all cheer him on. As we wash the garlic in our garden sink, I chat with two other volunteers who have become dear friends over the years. Our conversations are always interesting, and we laugh a lot. Carrying the crate of garlic over to the sales kiosk, the wafting essence of garlic permeates the surrounding air. It is new for us to sell garlic this early in the season and customers are delighted. The garlic sells quickly, along with scapes, baby carrots, head lettuce, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard, rhubarb, and gorgeous bouquets of flowers.

I take a break to sit with the garden babies to observe the sales activity. I see new and old volunteers and customers milling around, laughter and conversation filling the air. Volunteers are spread out in the garden beds, picking, weeding, pruning, and caring for our incredible bounty.

My three-year-old grandson emerges from the field, delighted to be a helper as he carries a bundle of rhubarb for a customer. Thunder clouds begin to move in. I see lightning in the distance. Time to pack up to keep our customers and volunteers safe.

I head to the tool sheds with some of the children as volunteers select left-over produce to purchase for themselves. There is a delicious strawberry haskap cake to share from one of our volunteer bakers. Another friend hands me a Japanese rice cake wrapped in seaweed – no volunteer ever goes hungry at the Green & Gold Community Garden! Two babies sit on the picnic table munching on freshly picked saskatoons as their parents share stories. One of our lead volunteers announces we have exceeded sales on the first day by over 250%. Everyone cheers as we remember the women and children in Rwanda who directly benefit from our shared purpose through Tubahumarize. It is a perfect market day in the garden.

THIS is community.

Margaret Milner
Green & Gold Community Garden Volunteer

To all our devoted volunteers and customers. We have started a blog called the Dirty Hands Diaries for your reading pleasure. The purpose of the blog is to share your reflections of the garden throughout the growing season. Anyone can submit an entry by sending it to us at: gggarden@ualberta.ca.