Hearts with Nature
By S. Georgia Kitt
We are thankful for the lead gardener at EarthConnection (EC), S. Winnie Brubach, and her enthusiasm for the Earth that has provided us with more than 20 years of healthy produce, some for persons living in food deserts. The garden at EC began in 1998 with the current garden group tending the soil for the past 15 years. S. Winnie can’t remember a time when she didn’t try to get something to grow. She grew her first tomato plant at age 3; her dad always took her with him when he gardened. She remembers her grandfather having a large kitchen garden, typical of farm families of the day, offering plenty of room to rinse off, prepare, cook and finally taste the rewards of their labors. S. Winnie has planted in the soil wherever she has lived. In Pueblo, Colorado, she and S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz planted corn in their prairie soil; the corn grew to over 6 feet and looked wonderful. In the early morning hours of harvest day four horses came from three miles away and ate it all! The next year they planted cactus! You can’t dampen the spirit of a true gardener, always planting. S. Winnie reflects on gardening at EC during this COVID-19 summer:
By early August 2020 the garden at EarthConnection was just beginning to produce. We were two months late planting! The journey to producing was as difficult as anything else one might want to do during a global pandemic. It was jolting for the Earth and the humans. We work in 21 raised beds rebuilt last year from western red cedar. Currently the produce is shared with the Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill; in the past both the Free Store Food Bank in Cincinnati and St. Leo’s Food Pantry in South Fairmont have been grateful recipients. We knew people were counting on us.
We got the seeds started in the EC greenhouse. They did well. We gardeners talked about getting together, but there was the virus. Finally we decided it would be fairly easy to keep to social distancing in the garden. We gave up gathering around the kitchen table before gardening and even gave up eating lunch together after. We now meet at 9:30 a.m. in the garden, work until noon, and then June, one of our trusted garden ladies, delivers the veggies and the rest of us go home.
Our “job security” comes in the form of weeds growing in the paths! They are more abundant because the growing season has been so good. They also got ahead of us because there were no Mount St. Joseph University students working in the garden in April. We are working to eliminate the weeds one row at a time after which we are laying down landscape cloth. This will help keep the weeds under better control; eventually we plan to add gravel on top of the cloth.
Because there has been little activity at Mount St. Joseph University it has been quiet (except for the birds) to sit in the morning or evening while watering the vegetables. Birds and gardens are forever friends! There were two or three nesting birds in the garden; a cardinal family and an indigo bunting family have nested in the grape arbor. The Carolina wren may have a nest there, too. I see and hear them, but haven’t located the nest yet. The robins, for their nesting, have chosen two sights on the EC building. Hummingbirds are coming for nectar in the flowers and as the summer moved on the bees and butterflies came to also sip of the nectar in the flowers growing along with the vegetables. The birds are nourished by the crawling garden visitors and they, in turn, help us a great deal by multiplying our yield.
When the gardeners are together there is always a hum of pleasant conversation among us. Our friendships are still strong and growing. Our love of Earth and the people we feed is the underlying vine that keeps us together. By next spring we hope we will be beyond the pandemic and we can once again gather in the kitchen, share life happenings and grow vegetables in our garden. After all, God lives in the soil.