Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Garden Grief

We have been blessed in our garden this year with a beautiful, bountiful harvest despite a great many issues with tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, beans. This in large part due to a abundant quantity of gorgeous leafy collards and kale. When Elizabeth and I planted them, I saw their bounty stretching far into November, December, even popping up next spring. (I plant one variety of kale known to withstand tough New England winters).

This dream is no longer.

(cue funereal music)

Tragically, sixteen kale and collards plants were brutally stabbed and killed this past weekend. They follow five of their brothers and sisters, who were mysteriously murdered earlier in the summer, to leafy green heaven. Investigators had originally believed that this initial act of violence was the work of a mysterious four-legged creature. We are now all too aware that the perpetrator was not only human, but carrying a sharp object with the intent to kill...

OK. So, seriously. I am very upset by this. (It's not improved by the fact that my husband and I also recently had the majority of our winter squash stolen from our community garden).

We would have been able to bring at least 20 (this is a super modest guess) bunches of leafy to the food pantry before the end of the growing season had these plants been left intact.

I have been cycling very quickly through the stages of grief:

1. Denial
- That animal attacked our leafy greens again?
- Well, at least they left some of the stems intact. Leaves will grow out of them eventually.
- Maybe somebody was hungry and didn't know how to pick greens properly. We have invited many people in our community to pick vegetables for themselves.

2. Anger
- Why the @#$% would anyone need 16 plants worth of leafy greens? Did they even eat them? What the %$*#?
- It's one thing to steal from our community and the hungry people we feed, but how dare they be so DESTRUCTIVE about it!!
- There is no way the plants will recover before the end of the growing season.
- Not only is today's harvest ruined, but all future harvests are ruined as well!
- And they took so much of the variety that would have produced in the spring! And so little of the collards which will not last too much longer!

3. Bargaining
- Maybe if I put up some signs today saying how to properly pick kale (so that the plant survives) it will protect the last remaining plants.
- I'll give them more water and extra TLC and they'll bounce back, right?

4. Depression
- Well, I guess we'd better not put any greens in next year. They have been such a target of destruction and nobody really likes them anyway.
- Why do we even do this if our stuff's just going to get stolen and destroyed?
- Maybe I should see what it would take to put that lawn back in. It was nice too... I guess.
- The vandalism's just going to get worse anyway.

5. Acceptance
- Yes, there are things we can do to try to keep this from happening again next year, but absolutely nothing I can do right now.
- Because this happened, the growing season will be over quicker and I will find other things to do with my time that I will enjoy too.
- Giving food to the shelter is not the only important mission of our garden. It is a beautiful symbol of our community's aspirations and hopes and it will continue to be so even without these particular plants.
- Even a possible four dozen bunches of greens loss is very little compared to the problems of hunger in this country and the world. There are other things we can do to help until we are able to grow again in the spring.

What our greens patch should have looked like today:

What it did look like:

Fully uprooted with a second piece of stalk on the far left.

This is certainly not the first time I have experienced garden-related grief. This year, the vast majority of my first attempt at growing seedlings indoors were mowed down by a neighborhood woodchuck. We had high winds that knocked down most of the tomato plants and insured their early demise.

But these griefs are not the same. Woodchucks and storms are acts of nature and I am unfortunately certain that this was the act of at least one human and as much as I hope it was an act of ignorance... I suspect my hopes are wrong.



  1. Girl!

    This being Christian is certainly a tough row to hoe. Excuse the bad pun. How do we keep turning the other leaf?

    Remember my sermon on forgiveness, after the sign was vandalized a month or so ago?

    Sigh. Come, Holy Spirit, come!

  2. Dislike! Booooooo! (this is Zack by the way)