Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Helping out the Strassers

For the past few weeks, Eric, Dessie and I (John) have been helping a local couple with an unruly and badly overgrown garden on the side yard of their property. They (Pam and Gabe Strasser) had allowed another local couple to plant the garden in their yard, so long as they tended it often enough and made use of the vegetables that they would sow. Well, after a few weeding sessions, the unnamed couple decided the patch was too much work and left it to be reclaimed by the spindly arms of nature.

Enter the VISTA crew, who received an email from Gabe about three weeks ago asking if we'd like to help get the garden back into shape, and in return we could harvest whatever produce was salvageable for ourselves or donate it to Sugartree Ministries. Though they would very-much like to work in the garden themselves, both Pam and Gabe have health issues which keep them from being able to do much manual labor. And, frankly, this garden required a lot of manual labor.

When we arrived for our first weeding session two weeks ago, the vegetable plants and the weeds were almost completely indistinguishable. The zucchini and squash were far overgrown, the too-small tomato stakes were bowing under the weight of the plants, and the smell of rotting lettuce was thick and lingered in the far corner of the bed. We got right to work, pulling up every weed we could, harvesting the squash, zucchini and green peppers, and re-staking the tomatoes. (Unfortunately, some potatoes and onions were lost in our indiscriminate weeding frenzy.)

It wasn't until after we had filled three trash bags to the brim with weeds that I had the bright idea to take a picture of the garden, so the full effect of a before-and-after picture will have to be left to the imagination. The pictures in this post are from last night, our second time in the Strasser's garden. Finally, the plot is starting to take shape again, and Pam and Gabe have been great company. They even cooked us dinner the first night.

So far, we've harvested four or five grocery bags full of zucchini, squash and peppers from the garden, and we included all of it into our bulk Sugartree donations from the college farm.

We have plans to go back for another night of weeding and maintenance next Wednesday. Pam has already made clear that we aren't leaving without dinner, and that's absolutely okay with us.

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