Gardening Brings Joy When the World is a Dumpster Fire

Planted peppers, basil, cilantro and tomatoes
Planted peppers, basil, cilantro and tomatoes

For the past several weeks, I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write my first blog post for 2020. We’re only five months into the year and already so much has happened. We learned of Kobe Bryant’s death in January. That already seems like ages ago. Do you even remember that we had a presidential impeachment trial or that wildfires burned down large swaths of Australia this year? The only words I can use to describe 2020 are dumpster fire.

It’s been an exhausting few months. COVID-19 added a nice topping of cream cheese frosting to the layers of chaos and uncertainty, forcing us to quarantine at home for weeks. During the pandemic, gardening became fashionable when people had nowhere to go and nothing to do. But as you all know, I was into gardening before it became the latest trend.

My garden has been in struggle mode for the last summer or two. Last fall, I decided this summer was going to be different. I was going to have the garden I deserved with luscious tomatoes and overflowing vegetables. I even took a gardening class and learned about all the things I had been doing wrong. I’ll share what I did to improve this year’s garden in upcoming posts.

Another view of the garden and the disintegrating garden box
Another view of the garden and the disintegrating garden box

Another reason I’ve been struggling is the racial inequality that has been brought to the forefront by COVID-19 and even more police killings of black and brown folks. I usually don’t talk about my personal experiences with racism. Like being told in first grade another child wouldn’t play with me because I was brown or walking around in a nearby neighborhood in junior high and being told to go back to Africa or the fear that runs through me when a cop pulls me over because I don’t want to be the next Sandra Bland or being told I’m articulate (here’s a hint, that is not a compliment.) These are things I am forced to deal with because of the color of my skin.

But I think it can only help if we have honest and open conversations about the history of this country and what’s happening now. If you’re wondering why the protests and violence are happening, read this great piece from The Root. I’m also going to drop this here- 75 things white people can do for racial justice. Change won’t happen unless white people step up too.

During uncertain times due to the pandemic, protests, and civil unrest, gardening brings me joy. Tending to vegetables connects me with nature and allows me to focus on something other than what’s going on in the world. I treasure my time in the garden. We all could use a little bit of diversion and self-care right now.

It’s worth remembering that change, like gardening, is cyclical. What goes around, comes around :-)

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MJ Population Health Division Director

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