I’ve been a sucker for vegetable gardens since my father tilled a spot at our home in Erie. He carefully plotted out the garden on graph paper – tomatoes here, lettuce there and zucchini (eventually everywhere). He fenced it in to keep out the critters, which did find their way into our suburban veggie patch. I have memories of my mother telling my father that he wasn’t allowed to shoot groundhogs in Millcreek (Pennsylvania).
At the time I wasn’t particularly fond the garden. It involved weeding, watering and eating vegetables. We weren’t careful tenders to the zucchini, which eventually came to be the size if cricket bats if we weren’t mindful.
When I moved to the Midwest, I realized that farmstands with fresh tomatoes, peaches and corn weren’t the norm. So I started container gardening tomatoes. One year, I moved mid-summer, and packed the tomatoes in the back of my two-seater convertible for the ride across town to their new patio.
Until this summer, I kept my gardening to myself. I’d share the abundance of tomatoes and squash with friends and neighbors, but my home-grown gardening stills were limited to my home. This summer I have a much more flexible schedule, and so I started volunteering with the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Network’s community garden at 22nd and Parade streets, Erie, Pennsylvania. My responsibilities included cleaning up, weeding, planting and watering. I’m on hand once a week to help the neighbors who have raised beds with any questions. This past week, I helped while the workers at PRI Community, an affiliate of Provider Resources Inc., weeded, cleaned, and planted the plot. PRI Community provided the services to the SSJ NN at no charge. The PRI workers were paid and learning skills in the process. With their help, we were able to plant more than 300 lilies along the border, weed the beds, mow, and trim in less than 4 hours.
This allowed me to get into the shared beds and harvest some squash that were hidden among the gigantic leaves. A recent post by TwoPeasandtheirPod provided just the right recipe to test.