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.