Last year, when we made the decision to reestablish the Shelby County Community Gardens, the coronavirus had not yet touched our community and social distancing was not even in our vocabulary.
The intent then was to provide a free outdoor space for residents to grow their own food, nurture healthy lifestyles and enjoy one of the county’s premier greenspaces.
Little did we know that the coronavirus would shortly thereafter arrive in Shelby County and be deemed a global pandemic that would change the world.
With closed public spaces, cancelled public events, working from home and schooling from home, Shelby County residents would need those gardening plots more than ever.
It seems we reestablished the gardening program at exactly the right time.
Last week, we held a ribbon cutting to officially open the community gardens for this year’s growing season and to recognize those who helped make this project such a success.
It was a beautiful day and a beautiful place to be.
This year we’re at capacity with residents from nearly every ZIP code in Shelby County, who have been assigned to the over 400 garden plots. And there is a lengthy waiting list of others who want to get in.
Some of the gardeners don’t have backyards of their own to cultivate. Others want more room and the sense of community you find working near others.
Many of the novice gardeners will learn from the veterans who are happy to share tips on gardening and how to ward off the raccoons and the deer.
Shelby County isn’t the only place where interest in gardening has surged.
During the pandemic, people all over who had never touched dirt discovered the joys of growing fruits and vegetables to feed their families and flowers just for their beauty.
Looking back, we have all had a tough year. The pandemic has forced us to make tremendous sacrifices.
It has revealed countless challenges.
But the pandemic has also shown us what is truly important, family, health, faith and community. It’s the type of community that we are proud to foster at the gardens.
Gardening is something all family members can enjoy and share. It’s a physical activity that raises our heart rate, lifts our spirits and benefits our mental health.
It teaches life lessons, like how to actually grow something. And as importantly, it teaches us how to be patient.
Gardening connects us with something greater than ourselves because the dirt and the seeds become substance for our lives and for our souls.
We are proud of the Shelby County Community Gardens and can’t wait to see wait to what happens out there next.
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