Four years ago, I had a dream to create a demonstration garden where we could teach people to grow their own vegetables and donate what we grew to help feed the hungry. The dream became a reality, and now the reality has spun off its own dream.
Most of you know the story of Our Garden at the Contra Costa Times, where I'm headquartered. The hours I'm privileged to spend in Our Garden are among my happiest. Every Wednesday, when we invite the community in for classes and to show off the thriving plants, is like sitting down with friends and family for an hour or two of good company. It's always great to see familiar faces and the enthusiasm of those visiting for the first time.
We've also grown a nice-sized group of friends we've never seen. The weekly class recaps we publish in print and online garner feedback from around the Bay Area, demonstrating that gardens and gardeners have no boundaries.
That lack of boundaries also extends to the heart. Last week, on what was probably the hottest day of the year, more than two dozen volunteers from three different companies and two agencies showed up to build the next phase of our dream, Our Garden Too.
They hauled bags of mulch and organic soil donated by Scotts Miracle-Gro, planted several trees given to us by Four Winds Growers and soldiered away in the heat, turning a large empty lot into a gardener's paradise. Or at least the start of a paradise. Whole Foods came to the rescue with a huge lunch and cookies.
Jim McCutcheon, assistant manager at Concord's Home Depot, choked up when he thanked the Home Depot employees who had volunteered for the thirst-inducing work.
"You are indirectly impacting many lives," McCutcheon said.
Home Depot's involvement with Our Garden began seven months ago, when Master Gardener Janet Miller, who oversees the project, began a casual conversation with McCutcheon during our annual tomato tasting event.
McCutcheon, there to demo a raised bed, showed us photos of a project Home Depot and its Team Depot volunteers had done. He told us to let him know if we needed help with the new garden.
We're pretty sure he had no idea exactly how much help we required. And although McCutcheon talks about how long it took to get from that day last year to the blistering hot day last week, it seems to me to have happened in an instant.
Home Depot donated more than $30,000 worth of materials and provided most of the labor, plus McCutcheon brought in Scotts and Four Winds.
Without them, and the city of Walnut Creek, which provided us a lease and assistance in preparing the ground, Our Garden may have ceased to be.
We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but now when I look at that big not-as-empty space, I see hope and the generosity of good people.
Joan Morris is the Home & Garden editor. Contact her at 925-977-8479.