It’s no secret that I love gardening. I really enjoy being able to grow good food right out of the ground and then sharing that love with other people.
Thanks to Robert Perry, former director of the field site and a member of the community advisory board, we got our own look into local agriculture systems this semester with a plot in the Roanoke Island Community Garden.
In the beginning of the semester, Robert showed us the community garden — a conglomeration of garden plots and communal fruit trees (and a bee hive!) near a wooded area in Manteo — and a plot that we could call our very own. The plot was covered in grass, so we had a lot of work ahead of us. The first few work days involved clearing out the grass, putting down compost and (hand) tilling up the land. Then, we got to plant our first seeds.
We planted a lot of things, including beans, spinach, broccoli, kale, collards, bok choy, herbs and mustard spinach, and a few of us made the short trip to the garden (it’s practically next door!) a couple times a week to water and tend to our baby plants. Unfortunately, a few tropical storms and Hurricane Matthew (maybe you heard about it) wiped out a lot of the young plants we had growing and made way for a host of weeds to take root among our garden. The result was a whole lot of mustard spinach and kale, as well as some surviving bok choy, collards and cilantro.
While I don’t have very many pictures of the garden before the storm, what did survive ended up really thriving. Our mustard spinach plants grew huge, enough to harvest and get a few dinners out of for the group, and our kale grew to be tasty, too. A few weeks ago, we made white bean and mustard spinach soup (it was great!), and the other night, Jack, Alex and I cooked down some more mustard spinach and kale to eat with rice.
Right now, our collard greens are still growing, and we’re going to go check on them soon (finals season has sadly kept us away). Although we have to pack up and leave the field site in a week, I’m hoping we can harvest some collards for one last home-grown meal before we all leave. It’s been a great semester and a great time tending to this garden, and I’m definitely a little sad to have to leave it behind.