I follow a curriculum based on the Master Gardener Program that includes all sorts of goodies like composting, soil amendments, seed to harvest demonstrations, plant maintenance, pollination, organic and sustainable gardening, pest management…. but the best things I learn are from the men.
It seems every week I learn one beautiful carrot of information that enlightens me and makes me humble and encourages me. Its a hard job, a job of steps forward and more steps backwards. Working often with non English speaking students, the Department of Correction’s solid rules, the students coming and going hopefully in the right trajectory, the weather, the weeds, the budget, the limited time, all these things work against us at times. So we have to do an awful lot in a morning every Wednesday, we have to rise to the occasion, be flexible, take deep breaths and most of all center ourselves into the reality of what we have there and what we can get done and what the real goal is overall. We have a teaching garden, not necessarily a production garden. At times we produce more than we need and we give it away. I try really hard to point out the positives each time I see them.
Recently a student was talking about the bible and I said I was dubious because upon reading the first few pages recently I stopped when I read that Noah was 900 years old. He laughed and made me laugh too. He said that he believed it because they had better diets back then!!! I laughed even harder. He then went on to say more seriously that in 2000 years maybe people will read about racism and poo poo it because they won’t be able to believe that it ever existed. This is from the mouth of a black man who came of age in the 1960s in the south. He says he has seen so much change in his lifetime to think that maybe in years and years to come that racism won’t exist and people will be incredulous that it even happened. I was speechless at his hope and grace. He then went on to ask me if I ever experienced a miracle, upon which I said no. He said he had and then told me that I was a miracle in his life. He said he could never have had a conversation like we were having in his upbringing in the south. A black man, a white woman talking about race and miracles.
I still don’t believe Noah lived for 900 years but I do believe in the goodness of people and their striving to see the goodness in each person hoping to witness a miracle each and every day, rain or shine. I think teaching gardening skills brings out the peace and goodness in people.