The frost is still deep in the ground when the preparations begin. Neighbors gather to pour over seed catalogs, sign up for tasks, exchange gardening tips and harvest preferences.
As the back hoes come out of storage the community gardeners face reality – the hours of stooped labor, sources of water, careful labeling or indistinguishable seeds.
Next the seedlings – and friendships – begin to sprout. Shared decision-making and the hard labor that gardening demands mean hours of collaboration on a common purpose and a sense of community pride that are the glue of lasting friendships.
On Saturday, August 11, Minnesotans will pause in their labors, get up from their kneepads, pluck a fresh veggie from the vine, and share in a celebration of Community Garden Day. There will be proclamations and posters, kudos and public praise for all that community gardeners contribute to the health of Minnesotans, the economy, the environment and the access of gardeners and their families to the rich harvest at its peak.
One subtle benefit of community gardening is the cross pollenating of cultures. As they work in tandem, gardeners share knowledge of traditional fruits and vegetables along with stories and recipes reminiscent of the heritage that new Americans contribute to Minnesotans whose knowledge of culinary delights is growing by the season.
In many neighborhoods individuals and families in need will enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal or two when generous gardeners contribute their surplus produce to a local food shelf.
Gardening Matters is the prime mover behind the celebration of Community Garden Day in Minnesota. Check their website for more about the day, about their regional hubs, and about the countless contributions of community gardens and gardeners to Minnesota.