Our garden is lonely. When we were housed in the bank building and the garden was just a few steps out the back door, we were able to attend to the garden’s needs on a regular basis. It was easy for us to walk out in the morning before work, during our lunch hour or after work to play in the garden. We could use our break time to run out and pull a weed or water a dry spot. It was wonderful to run out back and pick a tomato or some fresh herbs to go with whatever the potluck was that week. We could keep an eye on the garden and when it needed tended to it was much more convenient to do the chores when we were right there.

Things have changed; we are in a different building, and don’t have the option of stepping out the back door to maintain the garden.

Even though the garden has not received the attention that it needs, I was there earlier this week and am thrilled at what I saw. The ground is so fertile that the weeds between the beds are knee high. The weeds in the beds are also knee high, which shows how good the soil is. After all the rain it is soft too; I was able to pull the weeds easily. There are many things in the garden that are wonders besides the prolific weeds. Mustard seeds must have blown into a bed because there is a lovely Mustard plant growing next to lots of different colored Johnny-Jump-Ups in one bed. There is a little lettuce plant growing in another bed. The herbs that were planted the first year are coming up beautifully in several beds and the strawberry patch is full of blossoms which means lots of strawberries to come.

Mother Nature is a wonderful thing. With no help from us, the fruit trees that were planted two years ago have fruit. There are peaches and pears and apples showing their cute little buds. The peaches already are fuzzy!

I love that the garden continues to produce with no help from us, but we do need to help it along a bit. With the Alliance staff working full time, we don’t have time to devote as much care into the garden as we would like, so we are looking for someone who has the time and the energy to spend as a garden coordinator. We need someone who knows about gardening and is willing to recruit and work with volunteers to do the heavy lifting so to speak. Someone who can weed eat, till, and pull weeds. We would love to have someone who cares about the garden to take over the maintenance with the help of volunteers.

The community garden can be a treasure for the Illinois Valley. It could feed the homeless fresh vegetables. It can teach young people how to grow things, and it can be a source of pleasure for those who don’t have room for a garden at their own homes. I believe that a great part of the healing process is to feel that you are good at something, and to know that you can accomplish something as small as growing a radish.┬áThat radish seed holds the promise of a better life. If we can turn a tiny seed into something that will nourish our bodies, then there is no end to what we can do. One small accomplishment turns into many small accomplishments which in turn gives us the ability to stand up and say “I am strong”.

So, if you or someone you know would like the opportunity to take on the garden to bring it back up to it’s potential, please contact the Illinois Valley Safe House Allaince. You can call us at 541.592.2515 or 541.592.5332 and ask for Marcy or Chris.