We planted sunflowers a few months ago at our community garden with New Image Youth Center. I convinced the kiddos not to eat the seeds. “No, they’re not ranch or bbq flavored; see, we’re planting them. Then we’ll save the seeds and eat them.” No one believed me. And here we are in late May with enormous sunflowers. In a funny way, the sunflowers have increased my credibility at the community garden. They’re a little heroic and showy. And they overshadow the dead tree in the planter in a way that is a little triumphant. This makes me very happy. It seems I have a gift for communicating with people through gardening. It may even be my love language…and it brings me peace and happiness. “Here, let me show you about faith and hope and trust. Plant this here, that there, prune this…now be patient.”
I’ve been gardening with the kids at New Image for about 18 months. We’ve battled rain, ants, chickens, and aphids. And we’ve created friendships that are solid. Today, in the midst of 90 degree heat and 100 percent humidity, I gardened with Jake, Abetna, Alphonso, Paul, Richard and Smith. Six kids under the age of 12 tending four raised beds in the heart of Parramore. We ate strawberries, fresh out of the garden. Picked peppers. Fertilized everything. And then we sat back and played in the sunflowers. This is my version of meaning, impact, community. It works.