Last time I swung through Naples, fresh off the plane from Beijing and and en route to Salem, I spent some quality time at the Garden of Eden planting a whole lot of arugula and wrote about it here: https://simcosky.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/two-tuesdays/.
In the intervening year or so, my mother has come to the realization that it is not a nudist colony as its name and secluded location might suggest and the garden – an outreach of Florida’s Eden Autism Services – has flourished. What was once just a couple rows of arugula that Captain John and I planted by ourselves one hot October afternoon, now takes more than a thousand dollars worth of produce to market each Saturday.
Thursdays are official volunteer days and I availed myself of the opportunity to check things out. I found a good half dozen folks under the shade of the newly constructed outdoor classroom awaiting assignments. In the distance, I caught a glimpse of “Rosie,” who I thought I recognized as the rusted out tractor up for a no-fee adoption John and I investigated last year. The prep sinks were full rinsing freshly picked kale for market, and the worm ranch was taking shape.
I spent most of the afternoon elbow deep in wet shredded paper, straw, and compost mixing the perfect bedding for our worms to build a home. In which time, I learned that a lot of the work on the farm had been done by a bunch of adjudicated youth who’d learned how to work a hoe – which sounds like a bad song, to me.
I went home with a bunch of tatsoi – affectionately known in these parts as Florida spinach – and a full schedule of activities: Volunteer day on Thursday afternoons, working one-on-one with the boys who live at Eden on Wednesdays and Thursdays, harvesting for market on Fridays. . . sure signs that when we plant seeds they grow roots.