My Change of Heart

By Bianca Greeff, Graduate Assistant

Hand weeding in Edible Campus Gardens.It was a warm Friday morning when I volunteered for the first time at the Edible Campus Garden. As I walked across the sleeping campus towards the garden, I was too caught up in my own stressors to think about what I would be doing that day. I had crashed my bike the day before, and it had thrown off my entire morning routine. I was kicking myself for leaving my coffee and hat at home and was seriously questioning my shoe choice. I arrived in the garden just before 10 a.m. as the heat of the day was beginning to build. There was hardly any shade left in the garden. I began to wonder what I was getting into.

Growing up, I would hide whenever my mom had my brothers and I weed the yard. Not in the figurative sense of finding another activity to work on, but in the literal sense. When our Saturday chores included weeding, I would find the largest shrubbery in my area of the yard and would sit there until our weeding time was up. To be fair, I never got away with it. It was easy for my mom to see that my bag was hardly full compared to my brother’s. Still, I never stopped doing everything I could to get out of weeding duties.

Group of students gathered around plants.

Bianca and other garden volunteers.

When I arrived at the Edible Campus Garden to volunteer, I filled out an orientation slip and was told a bit about the garden. Being new to the gardens, the orientation made me feel more comfortable working in the space. After this brief introduction, we began weeding.

I was not disappointed. There I was; tool in one hand and a bucket in the other. The first few minutes felt strenuous. But then I began chatting with another first-time volunteer and a garden steward (stewards are students who tend to the garden on daily basis and lead volunteer activities). Before I knew it, an hour had come and gone. Conversations felt natural; everyone seemed content either discussing their degree paths, plans for the weekend, or weeding silently.

Halfway through the work day, I transitioned from weeding to sifting compost. I was happy for the chance to stand up straight. Time flew by, and the end of the work day was suddenly upon me. I was given fresh produce to take home with me and sent on my way.

Hand holding tomato.Gardening is associated with mental clarity and feelings of reward. At the beginning of my work day in the Edible Campus Gardens, I was skeptical those feelings would come from weeding and sifting compost. Yet, by the end of the day, I felt substantially less stressed than I did in the morning.

Working in the Edible Campus Garden is a great way to take a break from scholarly tasks and your own stressors. Even though I dreaded weeding before I arrived, I had a change of heart by the time I left. Plus, I got to enjoy the fresh produce I earned for the rest of that week. Check it out for yourself.

Volunteer times until fall break are:

  • Monday 5-7 PM at the Pioneer Gardens
  • Tuesday 4-6 PM at the Sill gardens
  • Wednesday 3-4 PM Harvest at Pioneer
  • Thursday 8-10 AM Harvest and Farmers Market Prep at Pioneer
  • Fridays 10-12:30 at the Pioneer Gardens

Bianca Greeff is a graduate student in Environmental Humanities, and working towards the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability.

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