For most of us, with the exception of those few gardeners you constantly see around the garden, rain or shine, mending a fence or tending to a public area, carrying around some power tool or dragging a cart heavy with everyone’s “green material”, community day seems to oscillate between a social event, a reason to bake, a chore or just another day in the garden. The little Tom Sawyer poster kind of mirrors some of those feelings, too.
I think all or any of those feelings are alright, as long as we show up. Some people come to all community days, some people put in the minimum time just to give their dues, some people happily go around to connect, partake of snacks and socialize, some people just get their task done and then quietly retreat to their garden to continue their toil…
Beyond the main purpose of getting every single corner of the garden and all public areas in top shape and getting some projects done that require more than a handful of people, there are some side benefits to these community days. There is no right or wrong and every helping hand counts; however, I noticed that, irrespective of our social approach or personal inclinations, a few things always happen during community days, besides the work, of course:
1. On those days, we get to actually talk to some garden neighbors we’ve known by sight forever but hardly ever spoke to; at the very least, now our ‘hi’ going forward might be a bit less absent and a tad warmer, which never hurts in a community
2. You might get a great snack idea or even a recipe. Although I haven’t always tried the snacks in the past, now at least I look to see what unique things people are bringing - the latest picnic offering was especially nice. A special shoutout to the kind neighbor always bringing the utensils and the cloth napkins - a thoughtfulness that elevates our gatherings, not to mention the turntable we had! That alone turned a garden club picnic with slightly tired, sweaty and slightly nerdy green aficionados into a garden event that every hip millennial would brag about.
3. You will definitely learn something new on those days. Whether it’s the name of a plant you never knew, or how to take care of certain plants, how to use a tool that might make your gardening easier, there’s always something. Special learning treats, like learning about the bugs living in our garden from top entomologists, make these days a do not miss.
4. You feel very good that day - I am pretty sure we all agree on this, we leave the garden those days with a very nice feeling.
5. It’s fun - there’s quite a lot of unexpected laughter, and a lot of times coming from people you’ve never imagined laughing before.
6. Again, most importantly, at the end of the day, the garden looks spic and span, like we’d like our own backyard to look… wait, it is our backyard!