Are you going to get your hands dirty this weekend? Last week’s snows here in Whitehorse plunged the psyches of those desperately seeking summer to near depression levels. Amazingly though, this week’s sun and warm temperatures have revived flagging northern spirits. Many locals will be happily wallowing in the soil over this Victoria Day long weekend.
Traditionally marking the beginning of the gardening season here in the Yukon and well down into the Prairies these next three days will see folk pondering a myriad of choices. Do you go with the old tried and true like black seeded Simpson as your key salad green? Or do you try something new like the estival head lettuce which was up for the Canada Seed of the Year award at Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last fall or the multi-coloured chard that I planted last spring?
Hope comes in small paper packets at this time of the year. No portents of global doom like the one filling the paid back page notice in last Friday’s paper or the natural and man-made calamities reported on elsewhere will break the spirit of the ardent gardener. Spring and seeds offer the heart hope when the world around us screams continually at the head to surrender to its pessimism and gloom.
Tens of thousands of seedlings carefully nurtured in greenhouses in the face of the worst March had to offer or on window sills across our territory offer strong testimony to northerners’ basic commitment to life. Rumours of guerrilla gardeners with spades in hand ready to turn over vacant patches of downtown land for planting veggies and flowers prove that Che T-shirts and cabbages do have something in common. Some folk continue to talk about the possibilities of urban farming as well. Maybe we will see the fruit of their efforts in this year’s Thursday farmer’s market. All these efforts, these simple acts, irrepressibly affirm the possibilities we hold out for a better future.
Every bed at the community garden at 7th Avenue and Ray Street has been spoken for this season with a waiting list of potential gardeners willing to take over if someone can’t plant theirs for one reason or another. The Women in Trades and Technology program participants built a new greenhouse for the community garden. It will extend the season and increase the variety of plants able to be grown by gardeners there.
As well the Downtown Urban Gardeners Society again will be urging their members to consider planting a little extra or harvesting their surplus for the Whitehorse Food Bank. They will also reserve a plot for the plant-a-row program but gardeners anywhere can support their local emergency food programs by setting aside a row of carrots or hardy greens for their neighbours in need. The community gathers around the garden and the garden provides for the community.
What seeds of hope are you planting this spring? As Margaret Atwood has said: “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Happy gardening!
The third annual Social Justice Coffeehouse sponsored by students from FH Collins Secondary will be held next Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. in CYO Hall, below the Sacred Heart Cathedral at 4th Avenue and Steele Street. All are welcome to enjoy the goodies, entertainment and hear of these students hope-filled witness to the world.
Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.