A garden of hope
By Lisa Nicklanovich; Photo courtesy of the Liepins family
“There is nothing better than seeing a flower open or the top of the kohlrabi appear,” said Donna Gordon, a community resident who spent 10 years overseeing an organic garden as part of her job as curator of education at the Littleton Museum.
“Many children don’t understand where food comes from,” said Gordon. The children who visited the museum would marvel at the lettuce sprouting and loved to taste a carrot freshly pulled from the ground and washed, surprised by the fluffy green tops.
It is important to resident Molly Liepins that her two sons, ages 6 and 9, have healthy food and know where their food comes from. Liepins began gardening when she became a parent, planting zucchini and cucumbers. “It was so easy and abundant,” she said and the family found many ways to enjoy them as well as sharing them with neighbors and friends. “Now the kids are opening up bell peppers and taking the seeds out to plant them and see if they will grow,” Liepins said, adding that her son has taken an interest in growing basil, tomatoes and lettuce.
Gardening offers too many benefits to mention, from lessons in math, science, and patience, to reducing stress and anxiety. The recent surge in gardening may stem from the additional time we have had at home and the need to take a break and get outside in the sunshine. Growing vegetables gives us some control of our food during uncertain times and growing flowers gives us beauty, attracts birds and butterflies and can help other plants grow. A garden also provides hope for what’s to come.
Gordon saw her neighbor in her front yard with her son planting every conceivable color of roses. Gordon’s neighbor told her that she wanted to be able to sit on her front porch in the evening and see something brilliant, something pretty with color and life.
“Gardening truly requires diligence and dedication,” Gordon cautioned. She recommends keeping it “small, simple, and safe.” A four-square garden with four one-foot squares of vegetables is manageable she says, or simply start with a container of herbs near your kitchen door. Gordon says to start with a plant instead of seeds for faster results and choose vegetables you and your family like to eat. Keep your plants safe from wildlife such as deer and rabbits as best you can, and watch out for the inevitable summer hailstorms.
Gardening requires us to be more connected to the earth, to our land, and in tune with nature and our weather. “Gardening centers you in a way that nothing else can,” Gordon added. Even if it is a pot filled with a tomato plant, herbs, or flowers on a patio or balcony, it “gives you a connection to life, hope, and pride,” Gordon said.