The Garden Build Experience

Thoughts from Lara, the Yarducopia Intern

The cliche goes that the best work doesn’t feel like work, but I disagree. The best kind of work makes you sweat and your muscles tired, but when you look back at all you’ve done, for a moment you forget all the work that went into it and you can just enjoy the finished product. Building my first garden bed was one of these experiences. The work is not exactly easy, but it’s satisfying. It feels right to be ankle deep in manure, and to pat down mulch around a tiny lettuce seedling. I do have experience gardening, but I’ve always just continued to maintain existing gardens. I’ve never gotten the chance to completely transform a block of land from grass and dandelions to little garden beds full of cabbage, pansies, and squash seedlings. For three hours, the group of four, (with the moral support of a few dogs and a patient teenager) laid cardboard, shoveled manure, and planted seedlings. When we were done, it was hard to believe what we had created.

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While I won’t reap the benefit of the vegetables that are growing in that garden, as I build more gardens, I am obtaining so many other benefits. Firstly I am absorbing Michelle’s expertise in all things gardening. I thought I knew a fair bit about how gardening worked, but I find I am learning new things about planting and cultivation with every garden build. This also helps me get a feel for Alaska, through learning what plants grow, how they thrive, and the things gardeners have to pay attention to in this environment. I’ve never had to worry about snow in California, or moose in Australia! I am also getting to meet all sorts of different Anchorage residents, and felt welcome in their lovely homes and yards. Every Yarducopia participant has a different background, and a different reason for getting involved, but they are all connected through their engagement with their land through gardening. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve met so many of Anchorage’s dogs!

I am envious of all the Yarducopia participants, because if they’re like me, by the end of the summer they’ll have forgotten all about all the hard work in their enjoyment of their crops. But I’m getting so many benefits from these garden build experiences, it makes all the hard work so worth it.

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