One of the things I didn’t think about until my shoes were covered in about 5 pounds of black prairie soil is that on this trip we only have the stuff in the car. I have only one pair of walking shoes and on Saturday they got filthy. It was a memorable way to learn that Plano Texas is part of a unique strip of soil that is incredibly rich and comes in either of two forms: sticky or solid.
On Saturday morning we woke up early to backtrack from McKinney to Plano Texas. My friend Robin had given us the heads up on a community garden work day there. Arriving a few minutes late (we’ve been getting lost frequently on this trip), the coordinator, Erin, had already started her intro. We joined a small crowd made up of teenagers from Future Farmers of America and women who are garden regulars. This Saturday turned out to be their once a month volunteer work day, so we jumped right in with picking up litter and digging rocks out of the soil.
When I think gardening, I think planting, weeding, harvesting, watering…. We did not do any of those things. As you can see above, the garden isn’t much of a garden yet. It turns out that there used to be an extensive garden here, but it had to be transplanted in order to make way for a new LEED Platinum Certified Environmental Education Center, built on the grounds. The building has just been completed, so now it’s time to get the garden back in. That means a lot of grunt work, tearing out any plants that aren’t part of the plan and picking all the rocks and junk out of the soil.
It felt good to get a little dirty and join in the community effort. Community gardens are particularly noteworthy for being a place of common ground where diverse peoples can gather and work together to create a space that is beautiful, productive, and safe. When we are in Phoenix at the end of February, we plan to revisit the Garden of Tomorrow, that I volunteered at in November.