As fall begins its descent, I find myself reflecting on my summer experience as part of UUCE’s CommUUnity Garden team. We’re all aware that gardening enhances one’s well-being on many levels. It may reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Being outdoors in light and fresh air contributes to health, and the physical nature of tasks help maintain fitness and mobility. My involvement over the past three months extends beyond these benefits.
Gardening can be a powerful conduit for personal spiritual connection. Engaging with our prairie landscape and soil, nurturing plants and witnessing their growth has been deeply therapeutic for me. I’m grateful for moments of solitude, during which I felt a deep reverence for Mother Nature, and a desire to preserve and protect the environment that we’re all a part of. I shared moments of surprise with a large resident toad. I found peace watching butterflies and hearing birdsong, all encouraging me to be mindful and contemplative in an increasingly fast-paced world. I appreciated opportunities to disconnect from life’s busyness and dial in to serenity.
Gardening is not just a quiet, individual activity; it strengthens connections within communities. Our CommUUnity garden has been a hub for social interaction, learning and support. Church members and friends came together to prepare the garden beds. We worked together to plant and then keep Canadian thistle at bay. We texted each other to ensure adequate watering happened during summer’s high heat. With knowledgeable leadership from Susan and Mary Alice, we shared experiences and got to know each other better over the season. And we achieved our goal of addressing food insecurity through the garden’s bounty delivered to our local food bank and crisis center. We’re not just tending the soil but enriching the greater community, promoting well-being through nutrition and connection.
I invite you to explore the CommUUnity Garden soon. There you may share in its therapeutic qualities, spiritual depth, and shared space for growth. You’re also invited to support our team by contributing your washed clamshell produce containers for the next several weeks, and taking a turn picking and dropping off produce for our community partners. After the plants have given all that they could this season, I’ll look back with appreciation and fondness for all of the connections we harvested.
Jen Abbey, September 21, 2023