Perhaps garden tasks can largely be broken down into three broad categories: maintenance, planting and teaching. Maintenance is the broadest and most time consuming of the three; it includes jobs such as weeding, watering, pruning and pest extermination. Where maintenance ensures that the garden is in good health, planting is what provides a garden in the first place. Furthermore, it allows kids (and adults) get their hands dirty and become more intimate with the Earth in a way that’s not necessarily a part of (sub)urban culture. This usually happens a few times a month, while maintenance is conducted daily. Lastly, teaching overlaps with all the jobs in the garden, but its structure depends on who is available. If there’s a large group, a lesson might be conducted on the given tasks which will be performed in that day. However, if only a few folks are around, things are demonstrated “organically”; as they come up.
These three categories underlie a more general goal for any summer garden; which is mostly a dual-pronged one. The garden should be a functioning, healthy and productive space where kids and any other interested community members can learn, develop and share basic gardening skills that will allow them to operate in the garden and perhaps take an interest in growing their own fruits and vegetables. These broader goals in turn gesture towards perhaps the greatest, broadest objective: to put “community” back into “community garden.”
To be sure, the garden even now, provides a wonderful source of education and nutrition to many individuals, especially children and seniors who frequently come and enjoy the space. If you stop by the Bennett Homes this summer, you’ll notice a team of individuals comprised of local college students and, more importantly, groups of young (and sometimes older) community members working against the weeds, in the sun, together. It’s a fun battle, one that’s very much in progress.