A lot of things have gone wrong at the community garden this year; we started out disorganized, there was way too much rain, seeds rotted, plants withered, and we were left with a lot of empty spaces for weeds to fill.
Yesterday I was the only one who showed up at 5 pm, (the time we get together as a group to look after the donation part of the garden). I grabbed a hoe and started chopping away at the weeds towering over my puny potato plants.
Nadia startled me. She appeared out of nowhere, pulled the hoe out of my hands and spewed out a long string of words. I answered her back, explaining what I was doing and then questioned what we should do next. She shook the hoe, almost violently, and I started to move away slowly, suggesting we harvest some green beans.
Nadia moved to Canada this year. She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak a lick of Ukrainian.
As we moved through the garden together I stopped at some basil plants, picked a sprig and motioned for her to put it in her pocket and go home. She looked at me quizzically and then, talking a mile a minute, marched to her patch and bent down low. Methodically, she selected some parsley and fresh dill, then thrust them towards me.
Somehow, after that point we agreed to harvest the cucumbers, then we went our separate ways; she to her plot, and I back to mine.
Finally, just as I was about to leave it dawned on me. She was trying to tell me earlier that she had sharpened the hoe. She didn’t want to do combat with me in the potatoes after all.
Before I left, I raised my hand, clutching the herbs, and shouted a thank-you.
“Dah,” she called back.
I think we understood each other and I consider the exchange one thing gone right in the garden.
Yesterday we stripped an apple tree. I have no idea who the tree belonged to.
Aren’t harvest share programs wonderful? People call in to register their fruit trees (laden with fruit they won’t use) and volunteers like us get to take home the booty. Our local organization also donates a portion of the food back.
If you want to get in on this where you live, google your town name with something like harvest/fruit/share to find a local organization. Even small towns are starting programs like the ones in Winnipeg or Toronto. Happy picking!