After a long, cold stretch, we’ve finally got a forecast with more blue than gray ahead. It’s still pretty chilly if you’re in anything other than direct sunlight, but just a few sunny days and it’s as if Portland is born again. Thank heaven.
On Sunday we had our April community work party at the garden. Unfortunately, I was on the tail end of recovering from my first experience with food poisoning, and in my haze I forgot to bring my camera. So hopefully my words will suffice until I make it back out.
Sunday was The First Sunny Day, and it was nearly perfect for gardening. Four of my usual students came with their two respective moms, and one said family had invited their Girl Scout troupe, so we had five (?) new little girls and their moms in the garden to boot (I’ll admit I wasn’t in top form that afternoon and lost count). It got a little chaotic with so many new kids and me feeling so drained, plus I think we were all a little sun-crazy, but fortunately there were plenty of adults on hand to supervise. There’s a biology professor at PCC who has brought her classes to the garden on field trips for the past year or so, and since they couldn’t schedule a trip with me this spring she offered her students extra credit to come help out at our work parties, so we had two new surprise helpers as well.
I pointed out two of our most predominant weeds, red dead nettle and bittercress (both very easy to identify and hard not to find once you know them) and set everyone to work throughout the garden. Before long, I was nearly trapped in front of our compost bins by towering piles of weeds, trying to make room for it all and intersperse the fresh greens with the dried and composted material we already had. At the end of a few hours, we’d cleared a few beds and were ready to plant potatoes, lettuce, parsley and mustard greens. Our compost should be cooking (and thankfully, making more room) in no time. The kids busied themselves finding all the “edibles” in the garden (collards, chives, and pea shoots was all), and attempting to engage with the mud pit without actually getting muddy. At the end of the day the garden was picked clean and one little girl at least had a ring of green around her mouth that would rival the best milk mustache you’ve ever seen. She marched around the garden with a collard leaf in her hand and a smile on her face like most kids would with a lollipop of similar size. What a wonderful way of measuring the success of one’s work!
In other grin-inducing news, I learned on Friday that I’ve been accepted to attend a three-day intensive immersion program this summer in Berkeley: The Edible Schoolyard Academy: Creating Garden and Kitchen Classrooms in Every Community. The Edible Schoolyard, started by famed chef and Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters (who helped start Woodlawn’s educational garden back in the day!), is perhaps the most famed and successful garden-based education program around, and I’m really excited about the opportunity to not only learn first-hand how they operate, but to hopefully get myself on her radar as well. [I went and visited the Edible Schoolyard last winter, I'll post pictures shortly].
The cost of the Academy will be $650, which I’m not at all sure how I’m going to cover at this point (even if I do resume or find paid work immediately, I’ll probably not have that much extra before the registration deadline next month). I’m going to apply for a scholarship through the Endowment for Unexceptional Humans (awesome!), but I’m also accepting donations, if anyone wants to help sponsor this exciting opportunity (for what it’s worth, since I can’t offer a tax deduction, my birthday’s coming up!) I was just looking into setting up a “donate” button, but in my research it looks like PayPal takes a slice of the pie, and I’d prefer not to go through them–so if you’d like to contribute in any capacity (even with other scholarship leads), feel free to be in touch through this site. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen, and I’m excited.
Well, all this talk of sunshine and now I’m sitting in shadows and getting cold. I’m going to go catch what’s left while I can.