Gardening for Good -- Good Work, Good Fun, Good Community

by Marge Pitts

Each Thursday evening last summer, a group of neighbors came together under the blue bottle tree at Troy Community Gardens to learn how to garden, have fun at a mini-workshop, and find a place in the rich web of connections that makes up a community garden. Some of the participants had disabilities, some did not. It was clear, however, that each person had a gift to share—expressed through sharing chores, story-telling, dancing, singing, drumming, bird watching, flower arranging, a garden parade and so much more. They all had a blast! 

This was Gardening for Good, a new program for people with disabilities and their helpers to share a garden, learn crafts and discover fellowship using the time-honored method of “hands in the dirt.” 

Some supported gardeners had staff or respite care workers with them each week, others had a volunteer or family member. These support people were key players, not only in helping to teach garden skills with the supported gardeners, but also in welcoming and extending friendship to each supported gardener over the season. As the summer progressed, other community gardeners would wander over to participate in the Gardening for Good fun times scheduled after the work times.

By the last session at the end of the summer, fifty or more people had gathered at the gardens to share food, music and stories in a real celebration of all of our abilities—and the abundance both physical and spiritual that we all share who share a garden in a beautiful, safe place.  

For Troy gardener, neighbor and project facilitator Rebecca Starke, Gardening for Good is a labor of love.  She has worked with people with disabilities for more than 20 years and remains eager for supported gardeners to discover how gardening can enrich their lives. Thus Gardening for Good will be continued in 2013.  And maybe expanded to other community gardens.  Stay tuned.

Gardening for Good relies on the strength of neighborhood connections and the resources of a well-run community garden. Plan on dropping by Troy Gardens next summer to see for yourself a miracle that is as natural, and as human, as a bean seed sprouting where it has been carefully planted? For a complete recap of Gardening for Good 2012, including stories and video, check out the blog at http://gardeningforgoodmadison.com/

 

 

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