By Jazzmin Ballou, Solano Gardens Program Coordinator

Mar 20, 2023

The Solano Gardens program is recognizing its garden champions this spring — those people who make community gardens a success, paying attention to what makes them thrive. This blog post is from the quarterly newsletter to garden champions, and we wanted to share it with our wider SuSol community as well!

Jazzmin Ballou, Solano Gardens program coordinator, helps set up a new garden bed at Faith Food Fridays’ Learning Garden

Winter speaks in whispers, begging us to slow down, quiet down and listen. One thing I appreciate so much about working with the land is that I can’t ignore this call. Even with my spinach, broccoli and kale in the ground, I rest, enjoying the low maintenance process of winter crops’ maturation. I’m sure many a gardener, farmer, nature-enthusiast, and good Earthly neighbor can relate.

The soft, excited voice of spring beckons us forth out of our solitude and into the warm embrace of the world around us; into community. With more light and more warmth, people all across the Northern Hemisphere find themselves spending glorious time outside, reconnecting with neighbors of all species. We salute the bees, we admire the return of the leaves to the trees, we invite our friends out for coffee at our favorite cafe just so we can sit outside, and we envelop ourselves in our gardens, preparing for the most productive time of the year.

As the spring kicks off, ponder what your community connections look like as a result of the warmer weather and our increased access to natural light. Who are you reaching out to? What plants are you nurturing? What plants are nurturing you? Notice the benefits that are present as a result of connections of all kinds: how happy you feel after reconnecting with a friend over coffee, the fresh smell of your garden bed after you’ve added compost and soil and sowed your first seeds, the unsolicited joy at seeing a group of poppies growing out of the sidewalk.

Community has dimensions, which span from your mailman to the microorganisms in your soil. As gardeners in community gardens, we have the gift of holding, facilitating, and ultimately benefiting from community at all levels. We stand at the center of a network that our ancestors lived with and tapped into in everything they did. Our straying away from this community is the reason we live in a world that is wrought with polarization and violence.

At this point in history, so many of us are choosing to collectively return to this Earth-centered way of life. One that is reminiscent of that of our ancestors, but that is original and being shaped to suit our needs. In so many places, this choice to return is sparked by community gardens. Land access is a privilege, and thus community gardens provide space for those who may not have the space to explore these connections on their own. They also provide a space for knowledge to be shared and spread, setting up newer gardeners for success as they build community with the world around them. This work is revolutionary, evolutionary, and done with pure love for the whole. To all the community gardeners out there, I thank you. The Solano Gardens team is excited to begin this journey together, strengthening our connections to one another and to Mother Earth.

Solano Gardens is funded by Solano Public Health