On a Whim

Today was such a productive Monday, following a very unproductive Saturday and Sunday. The weekend and my plans slipped away. However I woke up today determined to get things done!

Ian and I are trying very hard to keep this internship at lowest cost possible. We are actively sourcing, acquiring and making materials so that we don’t have to spend unnecessarily. Plus, it is like one big giant treasure hunt and puzzle figuring what fits and where to go. About a week and half ago Ian and I purchased the seeds from High Mowing and last, I believe, Wednesday they arrived. Very relieving news because we need to start planting so we can have starts for transplanting once the ground thaws and shows itself. With this in mind we realized we needed a good amount of soil to do such a task.

Ian brought to the table an option to use his father’s soil from a digging project that has left heaps of dirt behind. We decided that’s what we’d use. We then talked with Tony Reiber, Soil Science instructor at GCC, about what soil we were thinking of using on our plant starts. We told him about Ian’s father’s soil, and he immediately said ” you have to be careful of the weed pressure.”  What he was saying is that there could be a lot of weed seeds mixed in with the exposed soil. It really didn’t even occur to Ian or myself that this could pose a problem. It definitely would be one a big problem for maintaing weed growth in the gardens.

Ian remembered seeing the spot where the soil supposedly was being covered with weeds. So we went back to the drawing board. Our constraint now (being that we had already submitted the budget so we could not add potting soil to the cost) and NOW the seeds are already here, anxiously waiting to get planted. So I suggested seeing if we could get some soil donated by local farm and garden centers. Rockridge has a contract with Martins Farm in Greenfield that picks up their compost weekly. I pitched that we try to get in contact with them and see if we can recycle “their” compost back to Rockridge (talk about a closed loop system). That question is being worked on right now by the Head of Dinning Services. Hopefully we will be able to work with Martin’s down the road and have some nice compost to work with too.

Ok, now the preamble is over and the point of my story comes into play. (all above is important…just to note).

Today I was driving back from an interview in Northampton; I was driving along thinking about all the things I didn’t do this weekend and how am I supposed to catch up with my very fast paced life, when on a whim I pulled my car into the Hadley Garden Center and told myself I am going to go get some soil donated. I went in and ask the lady at the front desk who can I speak to about donations and do you do donations? She called Tom who came striding in with a huge smile on his face and said “What can I do for you?” I told him what I was doing and about GCC Farm and Food Systems Program and how I am working with Rockridge Retirement Community that is non-profit and that I am creating a garden for the use of residents, dinning service and staff. He stopped me and said, “What do you need?” I said sheepishly that I needed potting soil. He then proceeded take to a wide variety of potting soils and said, “Here is what you need, how many bags you want?” I said “two.” He grabbed two brought me back to the counter filled out a little slip, brought the bags to my car put them in and said. “To be honest I thought you were looking for a job. Do you need a job? ” I told him I was following up on some other ones but if they fall through I will definitely be back. I then thanked him and was on my way. THERE IT IS SO SIMPLE. TWO FREE DONATED BAGS OF TOP NOTCH POTTING SOIL! I was amazed. I have now been given a little more hope and confirmation that what I am doing will inspire others to help and change the system. THANK YOU Tom from Hadley Garden Center!

I now conclude my story with these words instilled in my head by wise old grandmother, “There is absolutely no shame in asking.”  Thank you for reading.