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My gardening story
Finding love and encouragement in the dirt!
A Stanford employee and BeWell participant shares her story of coping, via gardening, during the pandemic and for always.
Like so many others, these days I find myself in a world I barely recognize.
Recently, I’ve struggled with so many mixed emotions: fear, anger, disbelief, hopelessness, sadness … deep, deep sadness. Life has changed so dramatically that it is hard to remember what happened in February. World events have profoundly impacted all aspects of our lives; and no doubt we’re moving through an era of historical dramatic change. Those struggles cause deep unrest, reflection and growth. My family and I agreed that this was the time for us to consider how to meet our new reality with grace, humility, and dedication.
Since I come from a family of farmers — including my daughter, my grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins, it stands to reason that somehow one change would include dirt, water and sun. Some in my family still farm taro root in Hawaii and are defenders of water rights for native Hawaiians. I am proud of that and understand their love and respect for the land. In our search to explore deeper meaning and some level of self-sufficiency, we turned to our yard for answers.
We moved our huge trampoline, which had occupied a corner of the yard for more than 10 years. As my daughter pointed out, what lay beneath was nothing short of “dead dirt.” It was devoid of everything: no worms, no bugs, no plants. But somehow, there were weeds: lots and lots of weeds. Macy explained that if we wanted a productive garden, we would need to get serious about conditioning the soil. She stressed that creating that healthy foundation would be key to a productive garden. Since we are four vegans in my household, we needed the garden to be prolific.
In the last three months, we have dug, turned and amended the soil. We watched and hoped for signs of life. We planted sweet peas, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, potatoes, beets, celery, strawberries, lettuce, peppers (all kinds of peppers), crook neck squash, corn, beets, onions, and herbs. We watched visitors to our garden come and go: bees tumbling in the purple hairs of artichokes, starlings catching invisible airborne bugs, and grubs hiding in the shade of broad leaf veggies.
We have learned so much from that little garden of ours and there are still so many lessons. I don’t doubt that every living being needs a solid foundation to be productive. Living things need light and water and respond well to love and encouragement.
We’ve also learned patience and to have hope — even in chaos.
By Kathleen Sumner, LBRE Logistics at Stanford University, and BeWell participant since 2008.
Wellness in the great outdoors
Wellness in Your Home Garden – Stanford Health Improvement Program (HIP) 4-week online Engagement class. Mondays, June 29 to July 20 | 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.