It isn’t a clear concept as to what exactly is community. Maybe the people in a neighborhood is a community, or possibly everyone that is on a college campus is a community. Whenever a group gathers for the same cause – is that is a community? According to Webster’s dictionary, “community is a group of people who have the same interests.” So then all of the above can be considered community. What I do know, when I am turning the soil over in a garden plot and the person next to me is doing the same thing, and later when we are sitting in the dirt side by side planting seeds and talking about life: past, present and future—this is my community.
This is a story about a community garden in its truest sense. We at the Valencia Community Gardens (VCG) are different than most other community gardens; we have a special design in that we share everything. It is easy to assume that is exactly what a community garden is, but what are more popular are family plots and personal plots. So each person is responsible for their own planting, their own watering, and their own harvesting. The VCG is different, every plot has been rototilled by all, every plot has been planted by all, and every plot gets watered by all. And the same goes for the harvest. We have two work days a week so that most schedules are considered and can make at least one work day. We harvest everything that is ready, set it on a table and people can take what they need. No one ever takes all the tomatoes, not only because that would be impossible at this time of the season but because we are a community and we take care of each other. We only take what we need. I am very proud of this group that I volunteer with and I hope they all know how very special they are.
Every person brings a different talent to our group, similar to any other organized group. But this group in particular has no ideas of advancement or egos that need to be stroked; they are simply people who have come together for one reason or another with the same goals—to want to educate others of the importance of growing vegetables. All around are signs that indicate there is a movement growing in America, to bring a conscious awareness of our environment and the need to develop sustainable communities. The words of Margaret Mead are written on a truck driving down the road in Los Lunas, New Mexico, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It is within the strength of these words that will give people in many communities throughout the country, the wisdom to form coalitions to educate and empower others.