A stepping stone toward opening Our Heart Gardens in Kamloops has appeared before me and I’m JUMPing on it! Until yesterday, I had no idea how to become known in the community, and get people to help move Our Heart Gardens from a vision into reality. Yesterday I went to help at a new communal community garden prepared by volunteers and arranged by Glenn Hilke of JUMP Kamloops (which provides free community kitchen meals, farm fresh produce and wellness workshops for the homeless and others living in poverty). Glenn did a lot of leg-work, talked to an amazing number of people, and he also did a lot of physical work – when I got there on Friday I saw 13 beautiful raised rows with seeper hoses laying along the 100′ lengths. But no plants and no body. No one was there. Oh no.
I went over the the Food Bank across the street and asked. I was welcomed by Bernadette Siracky who told me that Glenn had been called away unexpectedly and would be gone for a month. That put the fire in me – all that work that Glenn did going to waste was completely unacceptable! Bernadette and I talked about why this is so important to me. I told her about Our Heart Gardens and I told her about working, like her, for a paycheque. I told her that was why, for 15 years I was increasingly medicated while incorrectly diagnosed, and finally had a breakdown. Meds were changed; I spent a year healing and, when Mom suggested I move to Kamloops to help her while she had back surgery, I came back to where I grew up. In short, Bernadette and I bonded in a quick flash of sympatico and understanding! She saw that my passion was based in personal experience, genuine, and that I was absolutely sincere in my desire to make this garden happen – she decided to help, provided me with an office to make some calls, introduced me to the staff and invited me to share their lunch. She arranged for snacks and water for my volunteers and told me how important the garden was to the community, and to her. Produce from the garden not used by the volunteers will be distributed to various charity and community groups, and the Food Bank! Fresh vegetables in the bags will be very welcome.
I used that office to call Barbara Lundstrom, whom I’d met through the Community Kitchen and the Community Innovation Lab (remember that, back in Feb?) She had plants and Lynda had seeds and both of them agreed to meet me at the garden that night. I emerged at one point from the office and had a conversation in which I learned that I was the only volunteer they had seen and I said “OMG, I need help, I should call the newspapers!” without thinking about what it would take to find the right person to hear me – and Bernadette picked up her phone and said, “You need to talk to Dale Bass!” What a blessing! She paved the way and I called Dale, told her the story and was told the next paper wasn’t out till Tuesday so she would have her team get it onto social media. (And it’s THERE! we heard today from Gabrielle, Saturday driver for the Food Bank. A good follow-up to the 3 issue series on the Food Bank just finished.)
Last night… OMG (again!) it was only LAST night? Lynda brought Barb who brought one of her relatives, a gentleman from Poland, 82 years old, and he planted tomatoes like a dynamo! He knew what he was doing; grew up on a farm. It was a pleasure for all of us to share the work – a burden shared is a burden halved! And we laughed!
We met this morning, as arranged, at 7:00 and Barbara brought more plants and seeds, and we started planting. At 8:30 Darlene came and we welcomed her with open arms! The “planting machine” that was the 2 of us, now was 3 and we moved really fast. Cooperation is a kick! Darlene stayed after Barb and I left and will return… Thank you, Glenn, for talking to her!! Darlene, thank you for coming!
I had heard, when I stopped at Penny Pinchers thrift store to get a gardening shirt, there was to be a plant sale by Grandmothers for Grandmothers in Africa, for women taking care of children orphaned by AIDS, and that last year someone got a tree for $2… The garden needs a tree, so I went hoping I could make a deal. When I got there, they were expecting me! Apparently, Glenn had told them he could use any unsold plants at this new garden and so they were ready to give me plants, I didn’t even have to sell the idea! They did get some money though because I saw “solitary” bee (Mason Bees) hotels, made by the inmates at the local prison – I had wondered how to attract beneficial insects! The questions keep being answered – it makes me giddy!
Tomorrow’s agenda is the template for as long as it takes to get the garden in: 7-10 am & pm every day. After than I’m taking a break – I’ve got an Earth Dreaming Retreat coming up first weekend in June on Whidbey Island on the Salish Sea. I get to walk in the ocean again! And then I come home to start weeding! and then harvesting!
Just the other day I said in so many words, “I’m not a gardener, I’m a visionary,” and there are two lessons in that. 1) don’t speak too soon, and 2) even visionaries eat, work, laugh, and have friends!
Come plant, and laugh with us, if you’re in Kamloops! If not, talk to us and we’ll talk back – we’ll start the Our Heart Gardens virtual connection…