Dirty Hands Diaries – May 5, 2023

by | May 21, 2023 | Dirty Hands Diaries | 0 comments

It’s planting season at the garden and the first Tuesday evening volunteer shift of the year. I’ve been planting onions (seedlings and bulbs) with a new volunteer who attended our orientation on Saturday. She’s very keen and as the sun begins to dip below the horizon, she comes over to say goodbye. “Thank you for tonight. It feels so good to get my hands dirty again!” I ponder that as I look at my own hands, blackened with soil from separating onion seedlings soaked in a worm casing solution we use to support growth. I wave goodbye as my 3 year old grandchild, who is sitting beside me in a brightly flowered sun hat pushing a small wheelbarrow full of onion bulbs, declares, “that’s how I know I am a gardener. I have dirty hands too!” as he gleefully holds his soiled hands up for inspection (not to mention his face that is almost as dirty…)

I contemplate this idea of getting my hands “dirty” in the garden. I reach out and bury my hands in the garden soil – it feels cool and damp and I am reminded of the millions of life forms living in its depths. These dirty hands are my connection to the land (thanks to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass for this reminder) and I feel my spirits lift another notch as I contemplate what it means to be part of something bigger than myself. It feels so good to be back working within a vibrant community whose collective efforts support Tubahumarize, an organization that supports women and children in Rwanda.

As I look around, I can hear my grandchildren puttering alongside each other and my daughter and son-in-law chatting while they plant onion bulbs. We are the last ones in the garden tonight (as is often the case). We always have so much trouble leaving here. It is such a peaceful place. I can hear a pair geese honking as they fly overhead and am reminded of the flocks of sandhill cranes that flew overhead last Saturday afternoon.

I gaze out to the garden plots with their raised beds and joining pathways that shape the landscape of the garden. We are realizing the fruits of last year’s labour as we worked to reengineer this beautiful space. I can see the hoop house in the orchard, the permanent pathways creating a mosaic that gives the garden structure, and the sprayer heads of our underground irrigation system. Lying here and there are the amazing tools that help us grow such healthy food – spring rakes and wire weeders, our homemade dibbler, and the carts we use for hauling things out to the garden plots. Just like the life forms working industriously below the surface, our volunteers work together in symbiotic harmony, feeding the land and our gardening souls.

We are a small but mighty team out here at the Green & Gold Community Garden. Come out anytime to check us out. We are out Tuesday mornings (10-12), Tuesday evenings (6-8) and Saturdays (11am-1 pm). Who knows – you might even get your hands dirty! To see where we are located, see our website at https://www.greengoldgarden.com/visit

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.