Ben, Kris and I are plouging on (pun intended).
The life force that is Ben brings dynamism and passion. I bring funding, networking and note taking. Together, we can take over the world, or, at least, make some postive impact on Swanley.
Ben is up there, putting together raised beds and shovelling manure. His dad and step-mum are gardeners-in-chief. We have potatoes, parsnips and carrots. Hopefully our strawberries will turn soon from hard green to yielding red.
Last May I downloaded the volunteer application form Bank saved on my desktop. I printed it off, checked my referees, filled it in, and.
Week after week it sat. Then, for shame, it was tatty and the printer was broken and the building work was starting…
July comes, and I stare at it. Print it, complete it. Think and think.
Finally, I post it in. I’m so terribly nervous. At school we studied ‘A Taste of Honey’. I was rightly affected by the line, “She’s got a mug tree, know the sort?”. Smug, well meaning middle class woman coming in, thinking she knows best. That and a backstory of “When Volunteering Goes Sour (school edition)”, left me stuck and scared of committing to love and passion to a project that could bite back. But better to have loved and lost, etc.
But. Trump. Brexit. I couldn’t let my fears of possible, potential dickishness get in the way of maybe being able to help. If I could listen and be of service, rather than think I know best, then I figured that I would be less likely to be that smug person.
It turns out I could help. Fundraising, writing short pieces, contacting the local press and setting up a tranche of cookery lessons are all skills I have that were needed there.
Through the Food Bank I met Ben. Ben is a man who cannot sit still and who devotes his life to church, family and community.
Just as he was gifted three allotment beds to run as a community garden, I pitched up, all lipstick, IG & bullet journalling. Yes, yes to helping grow something for this community of ours. I can’t tell a sweetcorn shoot from a leek, but I can write a funding application and talk to district councillors.
Last Thursday afternoon I met Ben on site. We marvelled at the well-rotted manure pile. He’s taken on another space, big enough for two beds. It’s totally wild, so will be a lot of work to tame, but the soil may well be hearty and ready for tilling. The ground is pitted, grassy and rough, and I tripped a few times. “Ben, you’re insane, please stop taking on more, please!”. He laughed, I laughed.
We received our first donation this week and it’s sitting in my wallet, waiting to be cashed. There’s so much to do and my GANTT chart is filling up. I’m meeting so many people who are excited, and that is thrilling.
I repeated my ‘well meaning middle class’ fears to a well known activist a little while back, and she’s not one for being polite. Fuck it, she said. You’re helping, you’re asking, you’re doing, don’t worry about it.
So I won’t worry about it. I’ll do the work, have a whole heap of fun doing it, learn about functional diagrams and cutting turf and crop rotations, and see what good we can do along the way.