A big and warm welcome to 2016 Community Gardening Leadership Training Program apprentices Stoni and Devin! Stoni will be focused at Good Cheer, while Devin will split his time between Good Cheer and the South Whidbey School Farm and Gardens.
“Growing up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, I often found myself looking back and forth between my grandmother’s “green thumb” and her miraculous garden. I was dazzled by what power, wisdom, and magic must be in those hands and in that soil. To this day, the deliciousness and abundance of what she produced still astounds me, especially considering that she was growing so close to the fumes of a steel mill and what was once at DDT factory.
Having spent my recent years organizing students and community members around a range of social and economic justice issues, I have come to believe that we are the leaders we’ve been looking for to build a better world. So as I continue to learn about the daunting web of environmental and food-related challenges that exist today, the spirit of my grandmother and her garden continues to inspire me, along with the countless ordinary people around the world and right down the street who are coming together to build community and brilliant solutions in the face of climate chaos, GMOs, environmental racism, and more.
“From my perch in the apple tree I watched the workings of the garden. The birds playing in the bath and the bees buzzing from one flower to the next kept my senses bouncing. As a young boy in this backyard plot, my Grandpa excited my curiosity as I tip-toed through the lettuce on a mission to capture slugs and slipped my hand into the pail of fresh-picked raspberries still swinging from his hip. The garden’s magic was in it’s life. The textures and colors squished in between my toes and grew high above my head.
As I became an adult, the memories of freedom in the garden were what brought me back to the soil. The more I learned of the complexities and politics of the food system the more my head began to spin, and my feelings became tangled in a food-web too confused to see the difference between food and fuel. As I weeded parking lots and mowed lawns during one summer, I daydreamt of tearing up the concrete and grass and growing food. I kept wondering “Why am I so disconnected from food?”
After I planted my first potato and harvested the fruits after neglecting it all summer, I was hooked. It seemed too easy to be true. And, it was. I discovered that as with all great things that seem simple, there exists an endless depth of detail that goes unnoticed for whom does not know where to look. So, I do not know much about caring for the soil and growing food, however I am convinced that food must return to the community. By growing what feeds us and saving the seeds of knowledge, we come together as neighbors around issues that divide people from one another and one another from our earth. I have come here to Whidbey looking for help in order to learn the finer details that will help grow food for thought, and cultivate the magic that I once found as a young boy high in the branches of the apple tree.” ~~~ Devin