Monday, March 7, 2016

Pruning Towards a Stronger Community

                                    Pruning Towards A Stronger Community

I’m a Master Gardener, a community service organization in my community, supported by the Home Extension Service of Oregon State University.  We learn evidence based horticultural practices and share those practices and our love of gardening with the community.

One of our community service activities is hosting a community Pruning Day.  We offer our pruning to folks who are unable to fully care for their gardens, and help shape up their gardens for spring.  This year, I was in one of the twelve teams who visited people throughout the county. 

The faces of the our team’s clients, elderly people who welcomed us into their gardens and homes, shined with delight and gratitude.  Our team descended upon them, clippers and loppers in garden-gloved hands.  We quickly set to work, creating piles of brush and gardens of newly ordered shrubs and trees.  

Many hands made light work, and the tasks were quickly accomplished, along with the laughter of many eager hands.

The real gold of the day was hearing our clients tell us their stories, and the story of their garden and orchard, what that place meant to them, and how their work there had shaped their lives.  The conversations turned into sermons of stewardship and reflection on well-lived lives. And, tears of gratitude were shed for our presence, and our time and work, our own love for their garden and orchard.  

Afterwards, we gathered around the table, sharing their food, and continuing our conversations begun in the garden.  There was a fellowship, with our new friends, and with each other.  The joys of gardening and service were shared, along with homemade cinnamon rolls and cider pressed from the apples grown on the trees we had pruned.  

We made connections, with the earth, with each other, and with lonely people who had their stories to tell.  

Community was built on Saturday, one snip of the pruning shears at a time, and a reweaving and strengthening of the community fabric. We are all stronger because of that work, and that time together.

Our county is a better place today because of Pruning Day.  Yes, gardens are neater, and orchards are now ready for a productive year of fruit growing. We have cut out the dead wood, brought light into dark places, and invigorated our orchards. Today, we have stronger community relationships with new friends. 

----Neal Lemery 3/7/16

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