Giv­ing thanks

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - Pam Bax­ter is an avid or­ganic vegetable gar­dener who lives in Kim­ber­ton. Di­rect e-mail to pcbax­ter@ver­i­, or send mail to P.O. Box 80, Kim­ber­ton, PA 19442. Join the con­ver­sa­tion at “Ch­ester County Roots,” a Face­book page for gar­den­ers in the Delawar

Nearly ev­ery year since my first an­niver­sary with this col­umn six­teen years ago, I’ve ex­pressed my grat­i­tude to the Daily Lo­cal News for invit­ing me to write, and to all the peo­ple who have wel­comed me into their gar­dens as I’ve pur­sued a story. What a bless­ing it has been in my life to be able to share my joint pas­sions for the plant world and for grow­ing food, and to meet so many won­der­ful peo­ple in the process.

From the be­gin­ning, my in­ten­tion has been three-fold: to share in­for­ma­tion about gar­den­ing; to tell peo­ple’s gar­den sto­ries; and to help lo­cal gar­den­ers con­nect with other gar­den­ers in our area. The first two goals —shar­ing in­for­ma­tion and telling gar­den­ers’ sto­ries — are eas­ily done and easy to ob­serve. Each week when I sub­mit a col­umn I know that I’ve ac­com­plished one, if not both, of those two goals.

The third goal — con­nect­ing gar­den­ers — is harder to trace. But this year I have more real ev­i­dence, and it comes from sev­eral sources. The first proof has come from set­ting up a Face­book page, where col­umn read­ers could share their gar­den­ing suc­cesses and mis­ad­ven­tures. I named it “Ch­ester County Roots,” but it is for any­one in the greater Delaware Val­ley area who is in­ter­ested in gar­den­ing. So far, sixty-five peo­ple have “Liked” the page. The best part is that they’re not just read­ing and com­ment­ing on my posts; they’re post­ing their own pho­tos, gar­den up­dates, and ques­tions. They’re also com­ment­ing on each other’s posts. This is just what I was hop­ing for!

Sec­ond, peo­ple are con­nect­ing in per­son. Ear­lier this month a reader asked me to let an­other reader (whom I’d men­tioned in one of my col­umns on paw­paws) know that she had some seedlings in her yard of this na­tive fruit tree. If Sharon was in­ter­ested, she was wel­come to come dig up a few. The two met re­cently for an “adop­tion.”

I also just learned that sev­eral of the win­ners of this year’s area Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Con­test, spon­sored by the Penn­syl­va­nia Hor­ti­cul­ture So­ci­ety, learned about the con­test through my col­umn. These folks dis­cov­ered their com­mon root at the awards cel­e­bra­tion — more con­nec­tions!

And fi­nally, far­ther away and yet closer to home, I learned that my col­umns make a dif­fer­ence to my grown son, who lives in North Carolina. (Ev­ery so of­ten, I email him a stash of my col­umns.) A few weeks ago, he called to tell me that he’d been go­ing through some tough per­sonal stuff, and that read­ing my col­umns dur­ing that time helped ease his state of mind and heart. It wasn’t just that he was hear­ing my fa­mil­iar “voice,” but that the voice was calm and pos­i­tive and focused on some­thing real. As you can imag­ine, know­ing that my words were help­ful to my child in that way made me cry.

As I’ve thought about all of these things, I’ve come to re­al­ize that “From The Ground Up” has

been more than shar­ing in­for­ma­tion, telling sto­ries, and con­nect­ing peo­ple.

It has also been plant­ing seeds — seed­ing ideas, seed­ing friend­ships, seed­ing com­mu­nity, even seed­ing so­lace.

It has been a trou­bling few weeks for many peo­ple in our coun­try and none of

us knows ex­actly what is com­ing down the road. A cer­tain amount of dis­trust has been stirred up. Some­times, it is dif­fi­cult to not lose heart. I find my­self won­der­ing, what are some metaphor­i­cal seeds that we can plant? Seeds, per­haps, of kind­ness, of un­der­stand­ing, of wel­com­ing, of com­pas­sion. What would that look like?

There is so much good­ness in all of us — it starts in our hearts, shows up in our gar­dens, in our com­mu­nity in­volve­ment. On this an­nual day of thanks­giv­ing, may we look for more ways to share with oth­ers and con­tinue to strengthen the fab­ric of our com­mu­ni­ties.

And thank you all.

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