Today's post comes from a guest blogger in Franklin, Ma. Kelly Sabini is a member of the Franklin Community Garden, one of many initiatives of Mass in Motion: Healthy Futures Franklin. Franklin's very first community garden, the King Street Memorial Community Garden, is located at King Street Memorial Park. A major goal of the community garden is to build a stronger community through encouraging the healthful practice of gardening.
Posted by Kelly Sabini
Kelly lives in Franklin, MA and is a member of the Franklin Community Garden
The opportunity to be involved in the Franklin Community Gardens has been transformational to me and my family. I moved back to the States from living overseas for 21 years, and moved to Franklin 2 years ago. I had been through major personal challenges and overcome many losses in the recent past. I had very mixed feeling about being back in New England and felt completely disconnected from my community. Through the Franklin Community Gardens and the Hockamock Area YMCA, that began to change.
At the time that I entered the Garden’s lottery, I was only thinking about how gardening would be a wonderfully enriching experience for my three daughters. We had always wanted a garden, a little piece of land for ourselves. Initially, I had only been thinking about the benefits to them, in learning about how food grows, the pleasure and satisfaction of watching something grow from the tiniest of seeds into something that will nourish one’s body, and the importance of healthy, organic foods in our diet (which were too expensive for my single parent budget to purchase at the stores).
But as we began to garden and put our hands into the soil, something began to shift inside of me. I began to feel the healing powers of gardening, of caring for plants, a metaphor for life: of learning the lessons of patience, of waiting and watching for life to grow and take shape and form, of respecting its time and process; of learning the lessons taught by having to sacrifice a loved plant due to infestation, the tragedy but necessity for the survival of the rest of the garden. I began to find a metaphor for my own life experiences and saw that, if I could grow this garden, encourage it to blossom and produce life that would nourish me and my family then I, too, would survive, would overcome, and better yet, would THRIVE, and that my daughters would be the better for it.
I began reading and learning everything I could about organic gardening, what to plant when, how and when to prune… The list goes on. Chris Clay, the Garden Coordinator, and Amy Acevedo became essential sources of gardening information. I began to go to the garden almost daily the first summer to put into practice my learning. Slowly, I began to talk to the passerby’s from my garden by the fence and answer their questions about what I was growing in my garden; and bit by bit too, I began to talk with fellow gardeners, sharing tips and trading vegetables and praising the beauty in each other’s gardens. Without notice, I had become part of a community!
As the first planting season wound to a close, I couldn’t stop. I had a physical need to garden. Chris had me planting garlic already, but there had to be more! So I began to research what and how to plant over the winter months. I decided that I would plant flowering bulbs, so that I would be recompensed for surviving the long, dark and bitterly cold winters of New England with color and fragrance reminiscent of the tropical country I had come from. I learned about layering techniques and off I went in late November to plant, yet again, in my garden!
Curious passerby’s wondered what I was doing. All winter long, I would go by the garden, observe the barrenness, check on my bed, throw more soil over it if the harsh weather had caused shifting. And I would wait… knowing that I would be generously rewarded! Nature doesn’t disappoint, and in early March, while all the other gardens were brown and barren, the first signs of life were eagerly poking their way through the soil in search of the sun! Soon, crocuses, tulips and allium flowers were greeting me… and all of Franklin who walked the King Street Memorial park and garden paths!
My second summer, I began to explore not only the productive side of gardening:- how to produce as much food as possible as consistently as possible over the growing months, but the aesthetic side of gardening as well:- how to keep my garden beautiful, colorful, and visually pleasing. I even began to venture to give advice to fellow gardeners about what had been successful in my garden! I talked to any- and every- one who would listen to me go on about the joys of gardening and the joys reaped from my little 4 X 10 bed! And one friendship in particular grew itself fast and firmly into my life through our gardening together, each our own little plot.
Today, the sense of peace and joy that permeates my home and the sense of belonging are profound. We, my little family of women, have found “home.” Not only have we become part of a community, but I am giving back to this community in some small way that gives me joy. My daughters and I thank you, Franklin Community Gardens and Friends!
Healthy Futures Franklin works with town departments, community-based organizations, health and human service agencies, schools, retailers, and workplaces to increase opportunities for Franklin residents to eat better and move more in the places they live, learn, work, and play. Franklin is one of 52 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth that are part of the MA Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program.