Our first day in the garden we slowly worked our way through each bed discovering its contents and measuring its progress. As we planted new squash seeds in the bed next to the herbs we were set upon by whirlwind in the form of a short European woman in a linen shirt. With flyaway hair and focused features she conquered the eggplant bed with the speed and dexterity of a professional. In minutes gone were the weeds and fluffed was the soil, as she gesticulated with the small garden trowel explaining, “Air, they need air. Let them go few days no water. Then give water when they need it.”
It was our second day on the job and we welcomed the brief lesson. Ten minutes later she was gone with a handful of garlic plants, leaving us with the promise “I will be back yeah. Next week I will be back.”
In many ways she represents what the garden means. It is very easy to give the short run down saying: the garden is managed by college students, but welcomes the public and the community to be a part of the maintenance and enjoyment. But this woman, the professional, demonstrates the truth of that statement. She works in Harvard Square and likes to come eat her lunch in the garden. She talks about the way her father used to trellis beans and how best to mound earth for effective watering. She brings her experiences and expertise, seeking to enhance the garden’s health and productivity, and then sits to enjoy a lunch in the sunshine among the blossoming potato beds. She makes the garden produce and grow for the benefit of the community, creating a real life image for the simple title: community garden.
Now every week we run into our honorary garden gnome. She is always eager to discuss how the eggplants are growing, whether the peas are climbing the trellises, and the exciting new green tomatoes on our tomato plants. Excited to see people enjoying the garden, we hope this summer more people with their knowledge and enthusiasm, like our European Gardener Extraordinaire, will find their way to our patch of green.