As an eight year-old, I remembered gardening with my mother at the back of our house in Lagos, Nigeria. Also, we had a little farm about two miles away from home. We planted green spinach, corn, okra, water leaf, bitter leaf, cassava, and other common vegetables that we cook for food. Cultivating the ground and planting was no big deal. Once we put the seeds in the ground, we just wait to see them sprout after few days. Some take up to a week or so. We did not have to water the garden or the farm. The soil was loamy and the rain provided the water needed to grow the vegetables.
Now in Minnesota, United States of America, I found myself like a sea fish but living in the pond. Gardening in Minnesota is obviously different from Lagos. The weather condition is a factor that I worry less about than the sandy/stony soil I had to plant tropical vegetables in. It took about three weeks or more for the seeds to sprout. Also, while planting, the seeds were sprinkled on the plot rather than, line them up to form a nice line as they grow.
The garden was created to help provide fresh ethnic vegetables to victims and survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse. As a survivor, who had been in a situation where ethnic vegetable would have helped provide additional comfort during my healing process at the shelter, I thought it would be a great idea to provide that comfort to others with the help of The Enitan Story. It sounded interesting and I had no idea what kind of challenges, we would be facing as an organization with the project.
One of our board members, Angela provided her backyard for additional gardening space. One of our church
members at United Methodist Church of Anoka, Jim and Ann volunteered to rototill the space. Meanwhile, an instructor at the Horticulture department of the Anoka technical College, Amy Moberg had helped us to start two of our seeds – melon and fluted pumpkin from the indoor garden of the college. Unfortunately, the fluted pumpkin did not make it, but the melon survived. She also donated some tomatoes, thyme, cilantro and mixed spices. They all survived except the cilantro.
As for our ethnic vegetables, we planted jute leaves, green and red spinach, okra, and clove basil. All except the clove basil sprouted and are doing well, just not as fast as I had anticipated. Angela has been working hard on the garden behind her house and I have been taking trips to the Harmony garden in Anoka to take care of the vegetables. Luckily, we have had a Target staff come to volunteer through Volunteer Match, an online volunteering network for both nonprofits and individuals willing to volunteer their time. Another person, Trisha came to volunteer with her daughter and son. She even brought some vegetables to plant on the spot where the clove basil did not sprout.
I have had people who wanted to volunteer but had not been able to make it, so please, come, if you can, help us at the garden. I was at the garden today using hoe to weed around the edges. The garden was already shrinking as a result to the grass around the edges. It’s been a lot of patience and persistence keeping a garden without the best soil, but when I remember why I am doing it, I feel inspired to keep working at it. I put some fertilizer in the garden today and hopefully, that will help the vegetable to do better, so that we can actually make some food from it for those we want to help with it.
It has also been a learning experience. We will definitely be having a better garden in 2015. As for the garden at Angela’s backyard, some of the vegetables sprouted while others did not. We have also learned that we would need to till the soil with some compost before the next planting season to help the garden produce better.
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Bye for now, until next time.